Todos Lo Saben (Everybody Knows)
Director: Ashgar Farhadi
Starring: Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz, Ricardo Darín, Bárbara Lennie
Runtime: 132 minutes
It’s not often that there’s a thriller I can really get behind. Whenever I sit through a thriller, it plays up absurdities in the plot and trades its genre for action mid-film. Todos Lo Saben (Everybody Knows in English) goes far against these annoyances, proving itself a true thriller that forces you to observe and question. I spent the movie piecing together clues, rethinking what characters were saying, and trying to solve the central mystery. The movie is a refreshing wave washing my mind clean of the combination horror-action movies mistakenly placed in ‘thriller.’ If you’re seeking to cleanse that same palette, look no further than Asghar Farhadi’s enthralling tale along the Spanish countryside.
We meet Laura (Penelope Cruz) and her kids as they drive along gorgeous landscapes on their way to their family. They’ve come back to Spain from Argentina to see Laura’s sister Ana get married. Alejandro (Ricardo Darin), Laura’s husband, is video chatting with them along the way. Though he’s joyful on screen, his absence is odd, starting the first round of questions for any audience. Next we meet Paco (Javier Bardem) and Bea, a couple with a vineyard who are close friends with Laura’s family. Grounding in reality, the relationships between these characters winds up being the most intriguing and simplistic choice of the film.
Laura’s daughter Irene and Paco’s nephew Felipe easily hit it off and sneak away to during the wedding. In the church’s bell tower, Felipe explains his uncle and her mother were once together and everyone in town knows. It doesn’t come as much a twist seeing as its pretty early on; its more to paint a normal history. Two once lovers now good friends, no one bats an eye. Irene and Felipe return to the reception and continue their innocent romance. The night seems fine until the power cuts and Irene disappears, the only clue being magazines of an old kidnapping.
It takes a while to get to this point in the movie, but I appreciate the work to get there. It ends up being important and you flash back to those moments prior to the reception trying to recall them. I love that this is a slow burn movie because it feels rare and Farhadi pulls it off well. Then with each inspection of Irene’s kidnapping, I start to feel tangled up in wires from suspicion, it’s amazing. The suspense comes from your working alongside the characters to find Irene and sorting through who could have taken her. There’s no need for weapons, loud music, explosions, monsters, anything else. The film only uses the wedding guests, their possible motivations, secrets they hold, and why Irene was their target.
Without spoiling the rest, I need to point out that this movie had moments that stunned me. Not once did it feel like too much plot to cram into a movie. It manages to enrapture me with its relationships and lets me play detective as it goes on. Bardem and Cruz, real life spouses, carry the film’s emotional energy. It’s clear that Paco still cares for Laura, but could there be something nefarious beneath it? Laura’s family is constantly seeking restitution for a previous deal between Paco and Laura, did this lead to Irene’s troubles? There’s such a drive in the film for these characters to care without pushing boundaries and it heightens the stakes.
Coming off Cannes, Todos Lo Saben is having a limited release in the US right now. It’s definitely worth checking out in a theater and with loved ones as company. With a captivating story and wonderful acting to bring it home, this movie is a diamond in the rough.
Todos Lo Saben
An intriguing thriller that invites you to play detective while taking sides in a private struggle among loved ones. Find a theater near you that’s showing it and take the opportunity to see it.