Everybody Knows is your average ‘missing child’ thriller film that heavily relies on one thing: the chemistry between real life married couple Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem. To the film’s credit this is quite easily the most interesting aspect of an otherwise forgettable film as we watch the two actors who play ex-lovers deal with their doubts, secrets and – above all – love for each other.
The overall product that we are left with is a shadow of what it could have been and nowhere is this potential more apparent than the opening 30 minutes. We are immediately plonked into the middle of a sun soaked Spain where families are rushing around in preparation for a wedding. This setting perfectly builds up the world, the characters and their relationships with one another as we are introduced to numerous potential suspects who are all equally as capable of committing the kidnapping as anyone.
However, this is the film’s biggest sin (and the mark of any bad mystery film): we are never given enough evidence to correctly identify the culprit(s). All the story between the actual kidnapping and its inevitable conclusion, is devoid of any stakes with confused talks of who owns which piece of land instead of the drama of how any normal family would react to the situation.
When the film does attempt to drop a bombshell, that the missing child is not that of Penelope Cruz husband’s but of her ex-lover Javier Bardem’s, this cliched reveal made the man next to me actually laugh out loud. It’s testament to the performances of the cast that they manage to almost get away with it, in the hands of a lesser cast most likely the whole cinema would have burst out laughing.
Not quite sure if it wants to be an entertaining dramatic thriller or a serious broody drama, Everybody Knows ultimately struggles to keep an audience interested through its lengthy two hour plus runtime.