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'Everybody Knows' Marries Far-Flung Talent To A Story About A Wedding Gone Wrong


An Oscar-winning director from Iran, stars from Spain and Argentina - critic Bob Mondello says the new movie "Everybody Knows" marries far-flung talent with a story about a wedding gone wrong.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: The first images are of pigeons stirring up dust inside a church belfry as a giant clock's mechanism whirs and huge church bells chime the hour. The clock overlooks the central square of a Spanish town that's about to celebrate a wedding, a big one. The daughter of its richest family is marrying, and her far-flung tribe has begun to gather.

The bride's sister, Laura, has flown here from Argentina with her rebellious daughter, Irene, who almost immediately hops on the motorcycle of a cute boy from town. That boy turns out to be the nephew of Paco, a handsome lug who used to work for the family and who now owns part of the vineyard he once labored in. There are deeper connections, too, as Irene discovers when she and her new boyfriend sneak off to the belfry as the wedding is just getting started.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character, speaking Spanish).

MONDELLO: She spots some initials carved into the wall. Who is that L, she wonders.


SERGIO CASTELLANOS: (As Felipe, speaking Spanish).

MONDELLO: "Your mother," he says.


CARLA CAMPRA: (As Irene, speaking Spanish).

CASTELLANOS: (As Felipe, speaking Spanish).

MONDELLO: And the P is Paco.


CAMPRA: (As Irene, speaking Spanish).

CASTELLANOS: (As Felipe, speaking Spanish).

MONDELLO: Everybody knows Laura and Paco were in love as teenagers. And as they're played by real-life spouses Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, it won't take anyone long to realize that there's still a spark there. But this is a movie from Asghar Farhadi, the guy who made the class-conscious Oscar winner "A Separation." So lots of other sparks are sparking - tensions between the town and the rich family, long-festering grudges. Farhadi's a master at showing how communities splinter along papered-over cracks. And this time he has the budget not just for stars but also for luxuriant images - twilit country landscapes, grapes fairly bursting in crates, a cake cutting illuminated by cellphones and candles when a power line is cut - no accident, as it happens - cover for a kidnapping...


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Paco...

MONDELLO: ...That will leave the whole town suspect - grape pickers, wedding attendees, even the child's distraught father played by Argentina's Ricardo Darin.


RICARDO DARIN: (As Alejandro, speaking Spanish).

MONDELLO: The material is sudsy, the social commentary muted in "Everybody Knows," which makes it a departure for Farhadi. But if the director has been subtler elsewhere, there's something to be said for turning Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Ricardo Darin loose with material that practically begs for scenery chewing. Near the film's end, two of the stars engage in one of world cinema's most emotionally complicated hugs, and you realize that the most engrossing thing about "Everybody Knows" is what everybody doesn't know for sure. I'm Bob Mondello. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Bob Mondello
Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.