Film Review: Knives Out (2019)
Knives Out (2019) – IMDb
A detective investigates the death of the patriarch of an eccentric, combative family. A detective investigates the death of the patriarch of an eccentric, combative family. A detective investigates the death of the patriarch of an eccentric, combative family. Review Hated Last Jedi. Loved this.
The circumstances surrounding the death of crime novelist Harlan Thrombey are mysterious, but there’s one thing that renowned Detective Benoit Blanc knows for sure — everyone in the wildly dysfunctional Thrombey family is a suspect. Now, Blanc must sift through a web of lies and red herrings to uncover the truth.
Knives Out (2019)
It’s hard to resist a good detective thriller, right? Even at school when my peers and I were forced to read literature many of us were not interested in, I do recall enjoying An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley. The play dealt with a mysterious inspector visiting the wealthy Birling family and questioning them about the tragic death of a young woman named Eva Smith. It was a fascinating play, unravelling gradually towards a memorable denouement. Stories such as this, whether fact or fiction, always woo audiences who themselves like to discuss and speculate how the narrative will twist and turn. Identifying the whodunit of the story is what we all hope for deep down. Let’s be honest, many of us will convince ourselves we have it all worked out early on, and sometimes we do, but most of the time an audience is clueless until the final reels. In 2019 Rian Johnson offered us a modern take on the detective thriller in the form of Knives Out.
Knives Out focuses on Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), who is a wealthy crime novelist celebrating his 85th birthday. Naturally such an event involves the whole family descending on the good man’s wealthy Massachusetts mansion to celebrate this grand occasion. Harlan’s children include: Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis), Walt (Michael Shannon) and his late son Neil’s widow, Joni (Toni Collette), and suffice to say the relationship between them and Harlan is somewhat strained. The festivities take a dark turn when Harlan is found dead having had his throat slit. Suspicion and paranoia are all around. It’s sideways glances, shuffling of feet and suspicious behaviour all round. Could Harlan’s family members be responsible? What of the housekeeper Fran (Edi Patterson), or Harlan’s nurse, Marta (Ana de Armas)? There’s only one thing for it. We need a detective to solve the mystery. Step forward Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), a private detective, who appears at the mansion with an eagle eye and many questions for those gathered. Can Blanc solve the mystery or will someone get away with murder?
I recall seeing Knives Out advertised upon release and the critical response for the film was excellent. I immediately thought of 1985 cult classic, Clue, which also had an all-star cast but took some time to gather the plaudits it has today. Knives Out successfully balances a superb cast with a great script, plenty of twists and turns, and a very satisfying conclusion. What I admired in this impressive ensemble cast is the big names who make their mark, but their screen time isn’t as great as other characters, such as Jamie Lee Curtis and Toni Collette. There are no big egos here; the cast contribute but don’t domineer the story. Each of the family members have their idiosyncrasies but all come across as pretty obnoxious, leaving the audience with quite a headache as to what is really going on here. Chris Evans plays a strong hand as Harlan’s grandson, Ransom, but the main plaudits have to go to both Armas as Harlan’s nurse who becomes key to the story, while Craig looks to be having an absolute ball as the cunning but unpredictable Detective Blanc. The film’s run time may be intimidating to some but Rian Johnson doesn’t waste a minute of this fascinating murder mystery.
Verdict: A superb detective thriller with a great cast, excellent script and enough twists and turns to leave your head spinning.