Iranian Asghar Farhadi is one of the most original and compelling writer/directors working today. A Separation (2011) and The Salesman (2016) – both Oscar winners – were so far above much of the dross that is churned out by mainstream cinema that the arrival of his latest was more than keenly anticipated. And it didn’t disappoint. Farhadi does not adhere to the idea that there is a clear distinction between who is right and who is wrong. Nor does he opt for the simplicity of having a protagonist and antagonist in the traditional sense – his people are just like you and me, caught up in life’s maelstrom of uncertainties. This time his story is set in Spain. Laura (Penélope Cruz) has returned from Argentina to attend her sister’s wedding and re-connect with friends and family. During the celebrations, her teenage daughter Bea is abducted. A ransom is demanded and Paco (Javier Bardem), a wine-grower and former flame of Laura, emerges as the only person in a position to raise the money – if he sells his estate. Old resentments and secrets that are not really secrets (because ‘everybody knows’) bubble to the surface while the problem of what to do about Bea is argued over. This is a ‘slow burn’ of the highest, most absorbing quality, as all characters begin to fray at the edges. The rich, almost tactile cinematography of the first half eventually gives over to a mood that is quieter, but with passions on the verge of erupting at any moment. Bardem and Cruz, probably because they are performing in their native tongue, have never been better and the fabulous Ricardo Darin, as Bea’s father, arrives on the scene when the mystery of the girl’s whereabouts intensifies. Underpinning it all is the ancient theme of land and long held grudges over its ownership. And how easy it is to forget what a treat it can be to listen to the ebb and flow and cadences of another language – the Spanish is simply beautiful in its own right.