Knives Out is a pure joy to watch, as Director Rian Johnson breathes new life into the classic whodunit genre. While celebrating the genius of Agatha Christie in a film that plays homage to her writing. While also treading new ground, with a script that brings the whodunit up to date.
In a large sprawling manor house outside Boston the successful mystery writer Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) lays dead. The ageing writers throat slit; the knife still laying in his cold hand. His body discovered by the family housekeeper Fran (Edi Patterson). While the writers 85th Birthday celebrations turn to family tragedy. However, despite an initial ruling of suicide, questions remain around the Harlans death. After all, why a man of wealth and privilege end his life in such a dramatic way.
As the Thrombey family gather to mourn the passing of their father and grandfather. The grieving process soon turns to scheming. As each of the old man’s relations vie to protect their individual privilege and status. Each one hiding their own secrets in a world centred around money, fame and position.
The family matriarch Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis) is a successful business leader with a less than honest husband Richard (Don Johnson). While their wayward son Ransom (Chris Evans) takes the role of black sheep and bad boy of the family. Meanwhile Harlan’s Son Walt (Michael Shannon) is the family publisher, and Daughter-in-law Joni (Toni Collette) the family money sponge. While the younger family members include Jacob (Jaeden Martell) the ‘Trump’ loving grandson and Meg (Katherine Langford) the sensitive granddaughter.
Each one of them is indebted too and dependent on the wealth Harlan created. Their lives, beliefs and secrets about to be placed under the microscope of the famous private detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig). A man who finds himself mysteriously hired by an unknown person to uncover the truth. A truth that may lie in the hands of Harlans only true confidant. The low paid, immigrant nurse Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas). A women who cared for Harlan as the family battled for respect, money and position. As Benoit Blanc’s investigation begins to take hold. The unsuspecting family find the kitchen cutlery draw emptied. As all the knives come out in a family of deep and dark secrets.
Rian Johnson’s delicious screenplay lights up the screen in the hands of a seasoned cast of performers. The films dialogue and structure paying homage to Agatha Christie while also carving something delightfully new. The films creativity, charm and style effortlessly combining the classic whodunit with a cutting commentary on modern American politics.
Paying homage to the classic Christie film adaptations of the 1970’s, Johnson brings together a stellar cast. Each actor appearing to relish the character they portray. As every scene oozes fun, excitement and melodrama. While Daniel Craig creates a detective you want to see more of in the guise of Benoit Blanc. Weaving characteristics of Hercule Poirot and Columbo together in a role he embodies with a sense of fun and charm. His character matched impeccably by a beautifully sensitive performance from Ana de Armas as Marta Cabrera. One that emotes vulnerability, intelligence and humour in equal measure.
But it not purely the performances, script and direction that enable Knives Out to shine on screen. With Steve Yedlin‘s cinematography bathing the film in the winter colours of Boston. His love of the films locations ensuring the Thrombey house becomes a character in its own right. The walls and rooms of the house breathing the mystery, deceit and lies of the family at its heart. This visual aesthetic is matched by a score from Nathan Johnson that ripples with energy and mystery. Beautifully surrounding the action on screen while celebrating the past history of the whodunit genre.
With performances that sizzle alongside direction and production design that shines. Knives Out is not only a great film, it’s a genre reborn. A glorious whodunit for the modern era, filled with humour, wit and energy that keeps you guessing right up to the end.
Director: Rian Johnson
Cast: Toni Collette, Ana de Armas, Chris Evans, Edi Patterson, Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Katherine Langford, Michael Shannon, Jaeden Martell, LaKeith Stanfield, Christopher Plummer, Don Johnson, Riki Lindhome, Frank Oz
Chris Evans also appears in Avengers End Game
Toni Collette also appears in Essential Horror Movies
Daniel Craig also appears in Essential Bond Movies
Jamie Lee Curtis also appears in Essential Horror Movies
Katherine Langford appears in LGBTQ Films – The Essential Collection