A kidnapping exposes old family secrets.
“Not every thriller needs to literally thrill,” said Christopher Orr in TheAtlantic.com. The latest foreign-language film from Oscar-winning director Asghar Farhadi is “very much worth seeing” despite its failure to generate heart-pounding suspense. Playing former lovers reunited at a wedding in Spain, its two co-stars—Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz—“smolder provocatively, of course,” while Farhadi, though working outside his native Iran, uncovers again the lasting power of buried family secrets. It’s initially “a little bit of a letdown” when the wedding, with all its subtle intrigues, turns out to be prologue to a crime, said Emily Yoshida in NYMag.com. But soon after Cruz’s Laura discovers that her teenage girl has been kidnapped, “the mystery becomes popcorn-chompingly compelling” because the wedding guests become suspects, and “each new piece of information adds shading to the true shape of the family.” Unfortunately, if you’ve seen Farhadi’s movies, you may know where the story is headed as soon as Laura reaches out to Paco, her ex, said Justin Chang in LATimes.com. What’s more, because the screenplay gives too little time to its many characters, “everything that befalls Paco, Laura, and their kin becomes curiously unaffecting, punitive rather than revelatory.”