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From left: Javier Bardem stars as Paco, Eduard Fernandez as Fernando, Ricardo Darin as Alejandro and Penelope Cruz as Laura in Asghar Farhadi's Everybody Knows.

Teresa Isasi/Focus Features

Everybody Knows

Written and directed by: Asghar Farhadi

Starring: Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem

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Classification: 14A; 132 minutes

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The family wedding, traditional setting for easy comedy or social satire, gets a psychological twist from the Oscar-winning Iranian director Asghar Farhadi (A Separation; The Salesman). Laura (Penelope Cruz) returns from Argentina to her home village in Spain for her sister’s wedding, bringing her young son and teenage daughter with her. All is joyous reunion, especially with the ebullient Paco (Javier Bardem), a local vintner whom Laura loved in her youth. But when the teenage Irene disappears mid-festivities and a ransom note arrives, the family begins to suspect Laura’s absent husband (Ricardo Darin), Paco or perhaps even one of themselves.

As he transfers his talents to a European setting and Spanish-speaking cast, Farhadi loses none of his remarkable ability to observe close relationships collapsing under stress. The film drags a bit in the middle, as Cruz weeps and weeps – she has a lot more going on with Bardem than she manages with Darin, once his dour character arrives. But Farhadi pulls off a powerfully twisted ending: What this family has done to itself reverberates long after the lights come up.

Everybody Knows opens Feb. 15 in Toronto

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