Not the Leonard Cohen biopic its title suggests, Everybody Knows marks a shift for Iranian master Asghar Farhadi.
Famous for intense dramas speckled with narrative-shifting revelations that make viewers and characters alike question their values and understanding of humanity, the two-time Oscar winner (A Separation; The Salesman) employs a fairly straightforward mystery for his latest film, sparked by the disappearance of a wedding guest in a town just outside of Madrid.
With ransom notes prompting a witch hunt for the responsible party, real-life married couple Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem simmer as former lovers whose unresolved past is excavated during the investigation and displayed for all to see in heartbreaking fashion.
Beyond the central duo, despite a host of players capable of propelling the plot, the conflict is contained to a surprisingly small number of people instead of the series of new, epiphany-bringing figures that define the filmmaker’s best work, especially The Past (2014).
While this limited circle of agents produces an occasionally stagnant pace, the tension remains fairly high throughout, and when devastating new information is revealed, it lands with intense emotion in classic Farhadi style.
Grade: B-plus. Rated R. Now playing at the Fine Arts Theatre
(Photo: Focus Features)