Knives Out is pure cinematic joy, director Rian Johnson breathing new life into the classic whodunit genre. With a knowing nod of appreciation to the genius of Agatha Christie and dark wit of Hitchcock. All wrapped up with delicious humour and a cutting dissection of modern America.
In a large sprawling manor house the wildly successful mystery writer Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is dead. His body discovered by the family housekeeper Fran (Edi Patterson). The ageing writers throat slit; the knife laying in his cold hand. His 85th Birthday party ending in tragedy as the local Police rule his untimely death as suicide. However, questions remain, including why a man of wealth and privilege would end his life in such a dramatic way.
As the family gather to morn the passing of their father and grandfather. Each relation vies to protect their individual privilege and status. Harlan’s daughter Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis) a successful business leader and her less than honest husband Richard (Don Johnson). Their wayward son Ransom (Chris Evans) the black sheep and bad boy of the family. Harlan’s Son Walt (Michael Shannon) the family publisher, and Daughter-in-law Joni (Toni Collette) the family money sponge. And let’s not forget the trump loving grandson Jacob (Jaeden Martell) and more delicate granddaughter Meg (Katherine Langford).
Each of them are 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 has been mysteriously hired by an unknown person. His mission to explore the death of Harlan, and uncover the truth behind the suicide. The family unaware that the old man’s only real confidant was the low paid immigrant nurse who cared for him Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas). A young woman who knows more about the secrets and desires of the family than any relation ever could. As Benoit Blanc’s investigation begins the kitchen cutlery draw is emptied; all Knives Out in a family of secrets.
Rian Johnson’s delicious screenplay sings on screen, playing homage to Agatha Christie’s talent for weaving a story around characters of depth. Creating a truly modern, humorous and playful narrative. Effortlessly combining the classic whodunit with a cutting commentary on wealth, position and modern American politics.
In a similar vein to the classic Christie adaptations of the 1970’s, Johnson brings together a stellar cast of seasoned performers. Each actor relishing the character they portray, the fun of the actors in delivering such a beautifully crafted script shining on screen. Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc instantly creates a detective you want to see more of. Weaving elements of Hercule Poirot with Columbo in a role he embodies with a sense of fun, joy and charm. A character who hits all the right notes in keeping the film fresh and lively. Playing alongside a beautifully sensitive performance from Ana de Armas as Marta Cabrera. One that emotes vulnerability, intelligence and humour in equal measure.
Steve Yedlin‘s Cinematography bathes the screen in the winter colours of Boston, while also ensuring the Thrombey house becomes a character in its own right. Its walls and rooms living and breathing in a film that could have become claustrophobic in the wrong hands. While Nathan Johnson‘s score ripples with energy and mystery, beautifully surrounding the action on screen while playing homage to the genre Knives Out embodies.
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