Knives Out – Film Review
by Fran Winston
Directed by: Rian Johnson
Starring: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell. Christopher Plummer
In cinemas November 27th
I tried to write this review several times but my head was still spinning from all the twists and turns. Described as a modern spin on the Agatha Christie murder mystery and with promos and posters that scream homage I have to be honest, I wasn’t relishing the thoughts of this. So I’m happy to have been proven wrong.
Opening with a shot of a grand old house as two dogs run towards the camera, it is so far so Christie. Indeed, all her trademarks are there. The pedantic detective, the motley crew of possible suspects and the big reveal at the end where said detective wraps everything up.
The basic premise involves the investigation into the alleged suicide of millionaire author Harlan Thrombey (Plummer) following his 85th birthday party, which all of his family attended, making them all possible suspects.
Anyone who’s every watched a murder mystery will recognise certain conceits used here and Johnson has shamelessly borrowed elements from many classics. Indeed, most of the characters are complete caricatures that more than resemble similar personas in other famous murder mysteries. But the cast completely go with it and all are given their moment to shine. This is one of those rare movies without a bad performance. Yes, one or two are better than others – de Armas, in particular, is fantastic as is Chris Evans – but no one could be faulted. Well, other than Craig’s choice of accent which is somewhat grating but we can forgive him that.
The familiarity adds to the charm here. It is tricky to explain without giving away too much of the plot and ruining it but suffice to say that there are constant surprises throughout – even up to the last few minutes. As a fan of the genre I can usually figure out the plot twists before they happen but I can honestly say I found myself sitting slack-jawed at certain points during this and some of the twists are so subtle and clever that you will kick yourself for missing them.
This is brilliantly plotted and will leave you guessing until the end. Extremely entertaining and intriguing it manages to put a classic twist on the murder mystery genre – something that I didn’t think it was possible to reinvent. Thoroughly enjoyable, this is one of the cleverest movies I’ve seen this year.