A power outage during a wedding celebration lasts just long enough for one of the guests (Carla Campra) to be abducted (and later held for ransom) while Paco (Javier Bardem) fetches a generator. Given the paucity of visual information and/or character backstory that’s doled out during the 20 minutes that opens the picture, Iranian writer-director Asghar Farhadi (A Separation, The Salesman) could just as easily have dispensed with the drawn out nuptials, cut directly to the kidnapping, and the film wouldn’t have suffered a bit. And why make it a whodunit with everybody in the audience knowing precisely where this is going right up until the identity of the kidnappers is revealed, a move that nobody saw coming? Family secrets are revealed, but not enough to keep audiences from nodding off. Strip away the formidable cast (Penelope Cruz, Bardem, and Ricardo Darin aka Latin America’s golden triumvirate), and all that remains is complexly-plotted conventionality.
Length: 2 hours, 10 minutes