Parents' Guide to

Everybody Knows

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Slow kidnap story is more soggy soap than tense thriller.

Movie R 2019 132 minutes
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This might have been a pretty good kidnapping story, but writer/director Asghar Farhadi goes soft; he slows it down to the point of almost stopping it and emphasizes goopy, over-the-top soap opera. The story of Everybody Knows stays almost entirely with the family; the kidnappers aren't shown until the end. The movie does bring in a savvy ex-cop character who gives hints -- such as that the kidnapper had inside information and could be someone close -- but the movie never provides any useful puzzle pieces. In one scene, several members of the family watch the wedding video intently, looking for any kind of clue; the scene goes on for minutes, but ... nothing.

Instead, Farhadi seems to want to focus on the motivations of parents and children, but he ends up avoiding the issue more than he explores it. The movie's main drive comes with revealing big secrets with a gasp, but there isn't any suspense or buildup, or any kind of puzzle. It's no fun. Farhadi is a double Oscar winner in the Best Foreign Language Film category (A Separation, The Salesman), but here he pitches everything too high; he seems lost when it comes to making movies for mainstream audiences. The main saving grace is real-life married couple Cruz and Bardem, who've shared the screen many times and have a strong chemistry. Their nuanced performances often manage to keep the shrill drama of Everybody Knows on a more level playing field.

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