“I think everyone enjoys a nice murder… provided he is not the victim.”
It’s the sign of a strong storyteller when they can take the subject of murder, a topic I think we can all agree is a bit morbid, and somehow make it funny. Rian Johnson is not only capable of creating such a scenario he can make us completely fascinated by the mystery surrounding the homicide. In fact it becomes so much fun it begins to feel like the most exciting round of Clue you’ve ever experienced, nevermind the actual dead guy…
Knives Out is funny but never at the expense of its sincerity in execution and character development. It’s only humorous if it fits within the narrative of the story, it’s something in certain cases that can actually propel the story forward. As titillating as the plot may be, it’s with the characters, fleshed out beautifully and uniquely, that gives this film the strength of a future classic in the making. Each is shown at first glance to have reason to want the recently deceased to be so, perhaps unfairly until second and third looks show a family of willful, selfish, pampered, possibly quite vindictive tendencies that would raise a red flag for any first year homicide detective. Of course the great Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is on the hunt and he’s gaining speed.
As the film begins you’re led to believe that the mystery lies in the who of it all in a possible murder scene. While it very much is the underlying motivation of the police detectives and the eccentric Benoit Blanc to discover the identity of the killer, the story circumvents expectations by piling on twists and turns. This is especially true for parts of the story we were led to believe had already been solved. As new facts are learned we quickly discover that everything we’ve seen thus far may require a second, much more in-depth look. Nothing is as it seems, not a first glance, not ever.
The family of the recently deceased, world famous crime novelist, Harlan Thrombey(Christopher Plummer), are an eclectic group of societal snobs who believe they are each the most deserving of a fortune and legacy left behind by Harlan. As he speaks with each of them just days before his death he makes enemies of them as he cuts them from wills or quits payments for college tuitions, he creates a chasm between virtually everyone who shares the name Thrombey. These people, each of them as self-centered as the last, also provide brilliant moments of either doubt, humor, or some concoction of the two. With such a fantastic cast these characters come alive with a serious kind of ferocity that is absolutely enthralling from the moment each of them walks on screen.
Though this may be an ensemble cast, it also belongs in large part to one man, Daniel Craig as Benoit Blanc, a detective with no equal. When Craig is on screen he steals every moment. He is charming with an odd Southern accent that is borderline cartoonish without ever crossing that line into animated buffoonery. He is ridiculous make no mistake but he is equally engaging and fascinating in every line he speaks, as he does so with such gusto, such assurance that you can’t help but hang on every line he delivers. Craig is in complete command of this character and it’s perfectly clear he is having a blast playing someone so vibrant.
At his side most of the film is Marta Cabrera played by the gorgeous albeit mysterious, Ana de Armas. Her performance is one of innocence plagued with doubt. She has secrets and with a doe-eyed look and a physical reaction to lying, her once undisclosed information can’t stand to stay as such for too long, especially with Blanc always in close proximity.
The rest of the cast is a collection of highly regarded actors such as Chris Evans, Toni Collette, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, LaKeith Stanfield among so many others who absolutely deliver in every moment making for one of the most memorable films of 2019.
Knives Out is a breath of fresh air as it twists and turns and flips everything on its head. The characters are brash but entertaining as hell, the mystery is constantly changing with even the smallest of clues or quickest expression of disdain from one of the suspected. Each actor shines when their moment arrives and together they emit such palpable scenes of hilarity and at times a kind of viciousness that feels all the more personal as they each share the same ancestry. The gut punch at the end of it all is that even if only one committed the act of murder, they all left a relationship with someone they supposedly loved in irreparable, tattered ruins. It’s a sort of familial crime where the punishment is guilt rattling in the psyche of each of them. May the punishment fit the crime.
Rated PG-13 For: thematic elements including brief violence, some strong language, sexual references, and drug material
Rutime: 130 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama
Starring: Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, LaKeith Stanfield, Toni Collette, Michael Shannon
Directed By: Rian Johnson
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 5/ Acting: 5/ Directing: 5/ Visuals: 4.5
OVERALL: 5 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: Yes
Check out the trailer below:
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