Review: Knives Out (12A)

Gabriela Wieckowska takes a look at the latest film from Last Jedi director Rian Johnson

Gabriela Wieckowska
8th December 2019

A love letter to the classic murder mystery and whodunit stories. Knives Out, written and directed by Rian Johnson, is one of the most entertaining films this year.

A rich and wildly successful mystery novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) invites his family and friends to celebrate his 85 Birthday but he is found dead the next morning. Private detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) arrives with the police and with the assistance of a kind-hearted Marta Cabrera (Ana De Armas), tries to find out the truth.

The excellent ensemble cast portrayed a wide range of characters who play different roles in the story, each one with their own distinctive personality and motivations. The hidden hypocrisy shines from beneath the kind façade showing some of the ugly parts of the Thrombey family.

Knives Out takes the conventions and tropes from classic, Agatha Christie-inspired murder mysteries, and serves them as a witty and high paced modern tale. The reality in Knives Out feels like a puzzle which blends seamlessly with the victim who loved creating his own games and mysteries and whose influence is still strong on all the characters. Metanarrative elements complement the story that has its own personality. The plot has many twists that take the audience to different places that it might be expected from a classic detective story and resists the temptation to imitate elements of blockbusters that would not feel right (in doing so is much more successfully that Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express).

The film is visually pleasing with some very good shots, but what is more memorable is the marvellous production design. Harlan’s mansion is filled with the most bizarre items showing his love for gimmicks and curiosities which creates some unique spaces that feelKniv like taken out of a novel.

Knives Out might not be the ground-breaking masterpiece but every film has to be. It remains an excellent film that twists in different ways than expected and revives a genre that for a long time was cast aside. It feels both like coming home and a breath of fresh air. You will not regret watching it.


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