Like its director, Asghar Farhadi’s new film made its Toronto debut after racking up quite a few air miles, having premiered as the opening attraction at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. His second film, after 2013’s The Past, to be filmed in a foreign land, Everybody Knows sees the Iranian director teaming up with Spanish cinema legends Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz—who accompanied him to the Deadline studio—to tell the story of a kidnapping in a small village in rural Spain.
Asked about the inspiration for the thriller, which takes place at a family wedding, Farhadi replied, “It comes from a trip I had to Spain with my family 15 years ago. My daughter was very small at that time, and she saw photos of a girl on the wall in the street. She asked my interpreter, ‘Who is she?’ and he explained to us that there had been a kidnapping. My daughter was afraid for the whole trip. And from that time, I was thinking about this situation, in which a family would lose one member… It was with me for a long time.”
The first actor we meet is Cruz, who plays Laura. “My character is a Spanish woman that moved to Argentina and created a family there,” she said, “and she comes back with her children to celebrate the wedding of her sister. She’s full of joy, wanting to be with her family. But something happens on that night that changes everything for all of them—a very dramatic and scary event. A girl disappears, so for a big part of the movie we’re looking for her and trying to find out what happened.”
As the mystery deepens, we begin to find out more about Bardem’s character, Paco. “He’s a man who lives in that little village,” said Bardem. “He has a vineyard, and he’s liked by the community because he’s generous. He’s caring and simple—he’s not too complicated—and when the kidnapping happens, [it provides] a reason for all these families to face their past. Their common past.”
Despite working in a foreign language, Farhadi has been praised by Spanish-speaking media for the authenticity in his film, something he puts down to an extraordinarily close collaboration with his two stars. “It was like teamwork, writing and working together, and I appreciate it,” he said.
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