If Cluedo was a film, Director Rian Johnson would win for making Knives Out. Deliciously daring and brimming with classic murder conventions, Knives Out will have you literally on then end of your seat, with the knowledge that you are in safe hands.
From very early on, the audience is let on to what the ‘situation’ is regarding the death of Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), he has died after his 85th birthday party at his family home, surrounded by them all and his nurse Marta (Anna De Armas). What follows is a series of events calculated to the time and description of his death. With an impressive cast, its no surprise that this film has swept the festivals including TIFF and LFF and is continuing to get raving reviews. Come the morning, police inspector Elliot (Lakieth Stanfield) is joined by private detective Beniot Blanc (Daniel Craig) to crack the code. This dysfunctional family includes son Walter Thrombey (Michael Shannon), his wife Donna (Erika Lindhome) and Trump supporting son Jacob (Jaeden Martell). On the other side is daughter Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis), husband Richard (Don Johnson) and their son Ransom (Chris Evans). To top it off is Harlen’s son’s widowed wife Joni (Toni Collette) and her daughter Meg (Katherine Langford).
Now, with a family this eccentric there are bound to be some issues, and they certainly have some with each other. Bring in the notable Gothic horror house, mist and a successful murder mystery writer celebrating his 85th birthday and you have the formula for a classic murder film. Yet Knives Out brings a little more to the table. Dressed like a Hitchcock movie, but with a coat of comedy, the script penned by Johnson is blazing experiment of taking dark comedy and placing it with all the trill of one of Harlen’s own books. The script has allowed each actor to have fun with their roles. A particular scene in which Ransom suggests that each member ‘eats shit’ was as Don Johnson said “a spicy scene”.
Bringing it back to the two mains one could say from Knives Out, Anna De Armas and Daniel Craig, their sheer brilliance in these roles are what makes the film go from a four to a five. Craig with his southern america “CSI KFC” accent is enough comedy for this film on its own, pair it with Armas who can’t seem to lie without vomiting everywhere makes not only for a little slapstick, but a heartbeat moment when you release everyone is under surveillance. Craig did get all the good lines, particularly towards the end of the film, but Armas is the one that shines throughout.
As for the family? It is simple. Privilege and power don’t make you The Brady Bunch, they make you The Thrombey’s. The acting however is rich. The audience will expect nothing from this film, but leave with everything. Taking full inspiration from the genre but twisting it into a fresh modern take, with a hint of current affairs and mockery, Rian Johnson delivers a stand out film, guaranteed to surprise you all.
KNIVES OUT 5/5
Knives out will be in US cinemas (26th Nov) and UK cinemas (29th).
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*Photo belongs to Lionsgate*