Monday, December 9, 2019

Knives Out (2019) film review


Year: 2019
Running Time: 130 minutes
Director/Writer: Rian Johnson
Cast: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Christopher Plummer, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Katherine Langford, LaKeith Stanfield, Jaeden Martell, Riki Lindhome.

Knives Out is now showing in cinemas everywhere thanks to Studiocanal.

Rian Johnson's murderous affair, Knives Out is a return to the glory days of the whodunnit. With it's atmosphere of dread and intrigue combined with a spectacular cast who all deliver captivating performances, Knives Out is a reminder of how much fun cinema can really be when everything comes together with perfect timing.

Knives Out feels like Johnson's tribute to Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot stories. In particular, the film follows the formula of Murder on The Orient Express with it's grand cast and their intriguing and colourful characters, each with a motive for committing the cruellest of crimes. The location here, which is incredibly important in such a story as it needs to have just as much character as the humans, is the exquisite, atmospheric and often quirky Massachusetts manor of bestselling author, Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer). After his untimely death following his 85th birthday party, private eye Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is called in to investigate his death. Even though the easiest conclusion to make about the cause of death is to rule suicide, Blanc believes that one of the family members has something to hide and that Thrombey's death is the result of creative foul play.


The film is a rare type of multi-layered mystery. It plays very much on the idea of things aren't always as they seem and even when you know that things aren't as they seem, how they aren't still remains a mystery. There is a certain level of predictability to Knives Out, but at the same time, it manages to be unpredictable from another angle.

However, it is Johnson's storytelling that is the keeps the film flowing and intrigue high despite whether it is predictable or not. The screenplay is airtight with extremely witty and entertaining dialogue. This characters are all unique and, despite the astounding situation, are relatable as far as personalities in big families go. No family gathering involving money and alcohol is ever a quiet event when there are clashing personalities the way there are in Knives Out. There is no doubt that in the film that Harlan's nurse, Marta (Ana de Armas) is perhaps the purest of souls and has the bad luck of being involved in situations beyond her control. The other characters have large personalities and have all been tainted by Harlan's money, which in turn has made them all dependant, greedy and, to an extent, bitter. Each has a motive to kill, but it is the journey of getting to know each of the characters and laughing at their qualities that makes Knives Out as fun as it is.


The stellar cast give their all when bringing these highly entertaining characters to life. Again, the film is very much like an Agatha Christie novel with Daniel Craig leading as the famous Benoit Blanc. He is indeed entertaining and full of life, but it is Ana de Armas as Marta who the film revolves around and she is such a gentle and endearing leading lady. She immediately earns the audience's love and respect, which is consistent throughout the film. Chris Evans gives new life to the stereotypical spoilt rich kid-adult as Ransom and, like any narcissistic character wishes to do, is the star of every scene he is in with his impeccable timing and enduring sarcasm. He is a fantastic presence in the film and undoubtedly an audience favourite. Michael Shannon, Jaime Lee Curtis and Toni Colette are all also extraordinary characters, who unfortunately don't receive as much screen time as the previously mentioned.

Knives Out brings back the lost art of making the murder mystery fun. With it's individual form of black comedy and host of brilliant characters, it is a film that transports you into a wild world of family turmoil that has never been so enjoyable.

8.5/10



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