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Critics Admire Storytelling, Cast’s Powerful Performance

Critics Admire Storytelling, Cast’s Powerful PerformanceCritics Admire Storytelling, Cast’s Powerful Performance

The 71st edition of the Cannes Film Festival opened Tuesday night with the world premiere of two-time Oscar-winning director Asghar Farhadi’s familial kidnapping mystery drama “Everybody Knows”.

Farhadi walked the red carpet before his film screening along with his stellar cast members, Spanish couple Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, and Argentinean co-star Ricardo Darin. 

Entering Grand Theater Lumiere, where the film was shown, Farhadi and his cast were given a minute of standing ovation.

Everybody Knows, written and directed by Farhadi, is one of 21 films vying for the Palme d’Or at the first Cannes festival since sexual abuse and harassment allegations rocked the global movie industry and gave birth to the #MeToo campaign to get greater female participation in films, Reuters reported.

A psychological thriller, Everybody Knows is Farhadi’s first movie in Spanish and the first Spanish-language movie to launch the festival since Pedro Almodovar’s “Bad Education” in 2004.

Almost 12 hours after the film premiere, there have been some rave reviews by critics. Pete Hammond of Deadline is positive on the work and wrote, “The film itself played well - an accessible melodrama centering on the kidnapping of a teen girl that leads to a series of long-held family secrets being revealed. As some of the plot twists became known there were audible “ahs” in my section of the theater. It is a satisfying launch for Cannes, with very strong performances from its large cast”.

Lisa Nesselson from Screen Daily also praised the film. “Making fine use of a top-flight Spanish-speaking cast, Asghar Farhadi deftly inserts love, resentment, class, money and family ties into a propulsive narrative replete with doubts, accusations, intimations, red herrings and other welcome ingredients from the suspenseful-drama arsenal”.

Calling it “solidly entertaining,” she believes Farhadi’s second film outside Iran (after France-set The Past) should see encouraging returns worldwide.

Writing for IndieWire, Eric Kohn has admired the performances too. “The actors bring a new level of star power to Farhadi’s latest talky psychological drama,” he wrote.

Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian wrote, “The outer threat, the inner wound and the mystery in between. These are the determinant factors in Asghar Farhadi’s intimately painful and powerfully acted kidnap drama.”

Ahead of the premiere of the Iranian filmmaker’s Spanish-language debut, Cannes jury president, Australian actress, Cate Blanchett introduced the female-majority jury that will decide this year’s Palme d’Or.

Blanchett noted the festival has improved the gender parity of its selection committees. Juries, she noted, have in recent years been split equally, with the president tilting the scales. However, just three of the films in the competition are directed by women

Cannes has come under criticism for years for not selecting more women directors. Only one female filmmaker, Jane Campion, has won the Palme.

The festival runs until May 19.

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