By Mónica Delgado

In a celebration sequence (a wedding) in Everybody Knows, a song of Venezuelan singer Nella Rojas “Se muere por volver” (“He’s dying to come back”) is heard. The use that the Iranian filmmaker Ashar Farhadi gives to the song turns it into a dangerous melody, like it was the only enjoyable song in a party. In middle of the reunion one of the secondary characters picks up the phone and says: “no, esta noche no va a volver…” (“He’s not coming back tonight”) and Paco (Javier Bardem) replies in a jokingly way “Se muere por volver, se muere por volver” (“he’s dying to come back”) like signaling the fact that the song and the word is being repeated. This moment (almost a documentary moment, or a blooper) of Bardem mocking the song, seems like an spontaneous one during a film of dramatic content, and allows us to read the disconnection or lack of empathy between the filmmaker and his actors, or the way that the filmmaker drives his script unsuccessfully.

Everybody Knows starts in a weak way, especially because it portrays a very slow presentation of the main characters in a particularly kind universe. The life in the countryside in a Spanish town is reflected in its quotidian ways, through the welcoming party for Laura (Penélope Cruz), who returns to her hometown for her sister’s wedding. The film manages to take flight with the kidnap of the adolescent daughter and the inquiries to find her whereabouts. However, the interest doesn’t last much, because of a uneven atmosphere between the characters, the mise-en-scène and whatever Farhadi wants.

If maybe the film returns to some motifs on the cinema of familiar secrets of Farhadi (motifs that made him win two Oscars and a Golden Globe Award), it seems that the main problem was in the adaptation of the original script to a Spanish context, or the choice of Bardem or Cruz (even the role of Ricardo Darín), who fail to transmit the echoes of a small-town life in a plausible way.

A film with an unrefined ending, that wants to be open or insinuating, with an ending that leaves in evidence a filmmaker lost in translation (of script and atmospheres). A weak film to start the festival, hoping it isn’t a forecast of the quality of the next films we’ll see in the next days here in Cannes.

Directing and script: Asghar Farhadi
Music:  Javier Limón
Cinematography: José Luis Alcaine
Cast: Penélope Cruz,  Javier Bardem,  Ricardo Darín,  Eduard Fernández,  Inma Cuesta, Bárbara Lennie,  Elvira Mínguez,  Ramón Barea,  Carla Campra,  Saadet Aksoy, Sergio Castellanos,  Sara Sálamo,  Roger Casamajor,  Nella Rojas,  Jaime Lorente
Production Companies: Memento Films Production / El Deseo / Lucky Red / Morena Films
Spain, 2018