Fri, 20 Dec 2019
Knives Out (12A)
Running time 2hr 10min
TAKING inspiration from classic Agatha Christie whodunnits, Knives Out provides a modern, fresh and exciting take on the fading sub-genre. The film, which was produced, written and directed by Rian Johnson (of Star Wars: The Last Jedi fame), focuses on the Thrombey family, who are subjected to a murder investigation helmed by master detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) after their crime novelist patriarch Harlan (Christopher Plummer) dies under strange circumstances at his 85th birthday party.
Like a true murder mystery, the film twists and turns as more secrets of the family and the events of the night are uncovered in the investigation. But, these twists and turns are almost always not in the ways you’d think. This is where the film really sets itself apart from others like it. Johnson’s love, appreciation and understanding of these Poirot-type stories is clear and it has allowed him to create a highly-satisfying and radical take that subverts your expectations every step of the way.
Knives Out is carried by an accomplished and charismatic all-star ensemble cast. Although his southern drawl takes a little getting used to, Daniel Craig does a great job of playing the eccentric and (seemingly) omnipotent detective Benoit Blanc. Other actors such as Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, Michael Shannon and Toni Colette are all fantastic at playing the wildly different and individual personalities of the dysfunctional Thrombey family. It is Ana De Armas, however, who shines most of all in the lead role of Marta, Harlan’s nurse, as she tries to navigate the pitfalls of the investigation plot with subtle innocence and grace.
The family play off each other in some truly hilarious ways, leading this to be one of the funniest films I’ve seen this year. Johnson was deftly able to tread the line between seriousness and silliness in his writing and direction. The production design is also a highlight. The Thrombey mansion is a certified maze full of quirky antiques and objects, all of which add to the eccentricity of the film.
Unfortunately, I can’t talk about Knives Out too much without risking spoiling it. The multitude of plot twists really do start from the get-go. I implore anyone who’s a fan of murder mysteries to give Knives Out a watch. It’s a fun and playful parody of the whodunnit, while also being a riveting crime thriller at the same time. I also wasn’t sure how Johnson was going to wrap it all up, but the film does provide a satisfying conclusion that is a suitably strange ending to a suitably strange film.