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article imageReview: ‘Knives Out’ keeps the mystery alive with a classic whodunit Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Dec 9, 2019 in Entertainment
‘Knives Out’ is a murder mystery with an all-star cast of suspects who all had reason to kill their family’s patriarch… but did he have reason to kill himself?
A great murder mystery keeps audiences guessing, even as the suspect pool shrinks and all evidence points to one person — there’s always that shadow of a doubt the narrative clings to and nurtures. Whodunits are always fun to watch, or even play, because they rely on so many senses and skills, from keen observation and attention to detail to gut instincts. Moreover, the characters are generally over-the-top personalities who almost always have a motive linked to greed, revenge or both. Then there’s the shrewd detective tasked with solving the crime à la Sherlock Holmes. Knives Out delivers all these elements in an intriguing, yet funny package.
Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) celebrated his 85th birthday with family and close friends at his home… and the next morning he was found dead in his study from an apparent suicide. It seems like an open and shut case, but someone anonymously hires private detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) to find the man’s killer. Accompanied by two local police detectives (LaKeith Stanfield and Noah Segan), they question all of Harlan’s relatives: his daughter, Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis); son-in-law, Richard (Don Johnson); their son, Ransom (Chris Evans); his son, Walt (Michael Shannon); daughter-in-law, Donna (Riki Lindhome); their son, Jacob (Jaeden Martell); his widowed daughter-in-law, Joni (Toni Collette); her daughter, Meg (Katherine Langford); as well as his full-time caregiver, Marta (Ana de Armas). The deeper they dig, the more convoluted the situation becomes as the old man appears to have made several enemies before his death.
Writer/director Rian Johnson is best known for his directorial contribution to the new Star Wars trilogy, but he demonstrates here that he has a knack for subtler narratives. Yet, this isn’t your typical whodunit as audiences spend much of the film following the prime suspect’s attempts to avoid being found out. The result is humorous and made more so by an unexpected stand-in for a lie detector. The characters’ interactions range from cordial to cutthroat, particularly as they try not to speak ill of the dead even as some of them wish it had happened sooner.
One of the most noticeable elements of the film is the rich palette of autumn colours with variations of red appearing prominently throughout the picture. It’s not only fitting of the narrative, but harkens back to the Clue board game’s colours. There’s also a great set piece comprised of various knives, swords and daggers, which inspires thoughts about murder or being stabbed in the back — literally and metaphorically.
The acting in this picture is top-notch. Everyone embraces their roles, as well as the fact this is a fun movie and should feel playful to some degree. The private interrogations are spliced with flashbacks that demonstrate the absurdity of their answers. Meanwhile, each of the actors plays up their character’s stereotypical personalities for everyone’s amusement. The result is an atypical murder mystery that doesn’t quite go the way one expects.
Director: Rian Johnson
Starring: Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas and Chris Evans
More about Knives Out, Rian Johnson, Christopher plummer, Jamie lee curtis, Daniel Craig
 
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