Everybody Knows (15)***

Dir: Asghar Farhadi

With: Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Ricardo Darín

Runtime: 133 minutes

WRITER-director Asghar Farhadi’s family drama begins in happy times. Laura (Penelope Cruz) has brought her two children from Argentina to Spain to attend her sister’s wedding. The festivities are long, loud and boozy, so much so that no-one notices in time that something wicked has come the wedding party’s way. After the discovery, Everybody Knows takes a sharp turn into much darker territory, with suspicion landing on one character then another. From an initially united front, families, friends, and the village as a whole are about to have their ties and loyalties tested as never before.

Given the setting, there is the tempation with Everybody Knows to see it as a reflection of Spain’s own troubled past, when neighbour turned on neighbour. Then again, Iranian writer-director Farhadi has walked this way before in About Elly.

In Everybody Knows Farhadi keeps the questions coming, which is intriguing at first then rather exhausting. At one point almost everyone in the village seems to be under suspicion. Far more satisfying are the performances of the central characters, Laura and Paco (Javier Bardem), the man she loved and left to go to Buenos Aires and marry Alejandro (Ricardo Darin). All three are on outstanding form, with Cruz in particular putting her character through the wringer.

Scotch: The Golden Dram (PG)***

Dir: Andrew Peat

Runtime: 89 minutes

WHO else could direct a documentary about the Scots whisky industry but a man by the name of Peat? Andrew Peat, an American who studied at the university of St Andrews, has put together a loving, beautifully shot tribute to Scotland’s original national drink (or was that water?) and the people who make it. Chief among these is master distiller Jim McEwan, who went for a six week job at a distillery on Islay and ended up staying in the industry for 52 years.

He's an engaging sort, with many a tale to tell and a passion for passing on what he has learned, Indeed, the obvious enthusiasm of all concerned in the documentary can make the piece feel like one big marketing push. There is nothing, for instance, about the bleaker side of Scotland’s historic love affair with alcohol.

Peat does make the odd sharp observation, though, at one point nothing that whisky generates more than $6 billion in exports, and a lot of cash for the UK Treasury, yet Islay, home to eight distilleries, does not have a dentist (or did not, at any rate, at the time of filming).