Directed by: #BorjaMoreno
Written by: Borja Moreno
Sometimes dreams don’t measure up to reality. I’m sure there are many out there, in fact some of you reading this very review, that have aspired to a certain profession or worked towards a goal, only to find that it was not what you had hoped it would be. There is something very dispiriting about it, perhaps this is why film and TV when covering this, opts to have a happy resolution come out of stories of such ilk. Very rare it is that you have a story that touches on these falsehoods and let downs of “making it”, that realistically plays out but Everybody Knows is one such story and writer/director #BorjaMoreno captures very thoroughly that feeling of achieving stardom only to find that it’s not all it is cracked up to be.
The plot centres on Howie (#EianOBrien), a former music star who left his coastal Northern California home years ago to achieve a degree of fame as a music star. However, Howie now finds himself mourning a missed opportunity of his past, as he struggles to get his own voice heard in an industry that demands him to just go “back to the covers”. So, he heads home, perhaps hoping to rekindle a former spark that haunts him to this day and perhaps in the process find a way forward in life. While slow in parts, Moreno’s story is a very relatable one and the director does not take it easy on the audience in showing us a very un-Hollywood view of stardom and an artist in crisis.
Like this years #CanYouEverForgiveMe to some extent (if you have not seen that film I urge you to do so, it is one of the years best) in depicting the pressures and hardships of an industry, this film does not go into things quite as deeply as it could but still shows us a very honest portrait of a former star fading into the backdrop of the industry, playing to near empty bars of courting couples and snoozing drunks. The title takes its name from the title track composed by Moreno and performed by O’ Brien, which is a rather powerful little number that actually fills in the gaps beautifully of Moreno’s slow moving tale of lost love and disillusionment.
#MarcinBanasiak’s cinematography is fantastic in matching the rhythm of the story, as the glamourised music bar contrasts brilliantly with the Californian seaside diner (some very strong production design by #MercedesHachuel) but more warmth is clearly to be found in the latter than the former. The waves slowly lap around the pier that proves central to the story and like those waves, this story slowly draws in, only to minutes later stretch back out, as this homecoming tale does not result in easy answers but instead tough decisions of making do with your choices, even if they were not quite right.
Eian O’Brien is very good as Howie, as he hides a childlike hope behind a worn down and struggling exterior. There are also some strong supporting turns from #NicoleCoulon as Lily and a gleeful #CarolElaineCyr as diner owner Molly who sees Howie as a major breakout star of the town, also - while her part is tiny - #RachelPollack nails just the right tone as Irene, a character who shakes this story/character back into reality in many ways much like Robin Wright in #BladeRunner2049 or Lindsay Duncan in #Birdman.
With some playful toying with music film conventions, this is less a Star is Born and more a Star is Forlorn and it is a story that is undeniably melancholy but also quite remarkably truthful.