See How They Run is now showing in cinemas nationwide.
When See How They Run’s trailer was released, many compared it to the works of Wes Anderson and Rian Johnson’s recent star-studded whodunit, Knives Out. To many, the parallels seemed clear, a dark tale wrapped up in a whimsical and comedic environment, with a small host of recognisable actors to boot. While these directors may have influenced director Tom George, it’s much more likely that all three men found inspiration in the theatricality of Britain’s 1950s theatrical and cinematic culture. One might describe George’s See How They Run as a loving and detailed valentine to a bygone age.
Framed around the long-running Christie play The Mousetrap, Rockwell’s boozy Bogart composite and Ronan’s overly eager Constable Stalker find themselves in their own Christie-like investigation into the attempted sabotage of a feature adaptation of the play. Everyone is suspect, from David Oyelowo’s overtly-camp playwright to Reece Shearsmith’s stereotypically-sleazy producer and Charlie Cooper’s somewhat-banal usher. Aside from Harris Dickinson’s embodiment of real-life actor Richard Attenborough, all our ensemble play a semi-clichéd caricature that fits into George’s peculiar puzzle. Rockwell and Ronan’s comical rapport is the lynchpin of See How They Run, bouncing effortlessly off one another and every suspect they encounter. To an extent, you’re less trapped by the mystery and more delighted by the farcical interrogations and conversations that emerge.
READ MORE: KNIVES OUT
There’s a difficulty in writing a clever mystery for the modern day, especially in the shadow of such twisty endeavours as Knives Out and, more recently, Halina Reijn’s Bodies Bodies Bodies. But writer Mark Chappell gives it a good go by returning to a classic formula. Motives are established, suspects are naturally suspicious, and a red herring is even thrown into the mix for good measure. Those attuned to the tricks and illusions of murder mysteries may sleuth the answer long before it’s revealed. However, given the film’s propensity for hiding its secrets in plain sight, there’s much to enjoy in the mystery that unfolds.
Pairing two creatives with comedic backgrounds, Tom George, best known for This Country and Mark Chappell for the underrated Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, provide this comical caper with an absurd sense of humour reminiscent of Dad’s Army or Faulty Towers. Stalker’s gung-ho attitude to the complicated nuances of detective work, much to Rockwell’s chagrin, makes for some exceptional comedy bolstered by a delicious spread of wordplay, Freudian slips and double-entendres. Here we are offered a treasure trove of references and allusions to 1950s British Theatreland, such as Rockwell’s Stoppard; a nod to playwright Tom Stoppard, whose play The Real Inspector Hound may have inspired Chappell.
READ MORE: THE KID DETECTIVE
Meanwhile, Dickinson and Pearl Chanda’s names are reflections of the real Attenborough and his wife, Sheila Sim. Its clear production designer Amanda McArthur has gone above and beyond to coat every inch of her sets in the atmosphere and joy of London’s 50s Theatreland and film industry. Her lavish construction of Oyelowo’s Mervyn Cocker-Norris is a particular delight, relishing in the Bohemian with lush foliage accentuating its deep emerald walls.
At a time when nostalgia-drenched sequels, bland superhero blockbusters and all too many straight-to-streaming decisions are taking place, See How They Run serves as a shining beacon of why we go to the cinema. It’s a wickedly fun farce through London’s West End that plays as a romantic valentine to Hitchcock & Christie, supported by a cavalcade of British brilliance.
At a time when nostalgia-drenched sequels, bland superhero blockbusters and all too many straight-to-streaming decisions are taking place, See How They Run serves as a shining beacon of why we go to the cinema.