This week we’ve only done one movie, as Phil wanted to use his movie night to continue watching Gangs of London, a series on Sky Atlantic he’s really enjoying. So it was up to me to pick a good one for Saturday night, and I went for something a bit different than usual for me.
Knives Out (2019) written and directed by Rian Johnson, is a who-dunnit with an all star cast. Christopher Plummer, Jamie Lee Curtis, Daniel Craig, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Chris Evans and Ana de Armas.
Plummer plays a famous and very wealthy mystery novelist Harlan Thromby, De Armas is his nurse, and the rest of the luminaries just mentioned are his family, except for Craig who plays Benoit Blanc, a private detective. The main plot point is that Harland is found dead, his throat cut, on the night of his 85th birthday party, which all his family attended. The police, (Lakeith Stanfield and Noah Segan) believe it’s suicide, but someone, we don’t know who, has mysteriously hired Blanc to investigate Harlan’s demise.
Really you don’t need much more than that to keep things spoiler free. If you’ve ever read/seen Agatha Christie, Hercule Poirot, Jessica Whatserface (Murder She Wrote) then you have a fair idea of the structure. It is of course, a pastiche of the genre, and the cast obviously enjoyed their roles in the movie.
The critics loved it, David Rooney- of the Hollywood Reporter described the film as an “ingeniously plotted, tremendously entertaining and deviously irreverent crowd-pleaser” and “a treat from start to finish,” praising the film’s script, the throwbacks to the murder mysteries of the 1970s, and the actors’ performances“
And lots of others said similar. Underlining the movie is commentary on the race relations in America which didn’t go unnoticed. Ram Bergman, the co-producer of Knives Out and Johnson’s longtime collaborator, says that the sociopolitical elements of the film were essential from its infancy.
Phil and I are not ‘whodunnit’ people, never been into Murder on the Orient Express and suchlike, so although we appreciated the acting, and the scene setting, it didn’t really float our boats, but for anyone who is, I should think this is an excellent addition to the genre. Johnson keeps the pace going so the movie never flags, but we felt at 2 hrs 10 mins it was about 20 minutes too long, and needed a little trimming towards the end. It isn’t easy to spot the killer to start with and there’s a few twists and red herrings along the way, though I guessed before the denouement who it was. Like all whodunnits the detective gathers everyone together in the room and explains his findings eventually pointing to the murderer, and that’s where it fell down a bit for me, it went on too long, and his OTT Southern American accent (according to Craig based on some historian guy called Shelby Foote) did make for hard going sometimes.
I’m going to give it 4 stars anyway as it was so well filmed and acted, but not one I’d bother seeing again.