One of the most buzzed about films on my Twitter feed, now that the fan popular Knives Out is finally done in theaters, I watched it one Saturday evening, curious to see if it’d live up to the high expectations I’d put on the comedic whodunit.
Knives Out (2019) Film Review
Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) has lived a comfortable and good life. As the patriarch, he has an eccentric family who all seem to have their hand out, waiting for something they might not deserve. If it’s not his daughter (Jamie Lee Curtis) or son (Michael Shannon) in competition to inherit everything, then it’s his widowed daughter-in-law (Toni Collette) looking for security for her college-age daughter, Meg (Katherine Langford); or his good-for-nothing grandson Ransom (Chris Evans), who’s just him Harlan at that age. Then there’s Harlan’s kind-hearted nurse, Marta (Ana de Armas) who is, perhaps, the only person who is truly heartbroken when Harlan is found dead of an apparent suicide.
This brings not only the police to the front door of the family estate, but also the mysterious private investigator Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig). With a keen eye for detail, the detective knows something is amiss, but what he isn’t sure of, just as he isn’t sure who hired him, is the play-by-play. But perhaps with the help of Marta, the only person Harlan seems to have confided in, the unlikely duo just may find out the truth behind this puzzle of a family.
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I’ll confess, from the moment I read a teaser about this (all without a trailer or promo graphics), I had high hopes. It seemed the ideal “good time” way to spend a couple of hours both from an entertainment point of view, and as a viewer of Christie adaptations. The A-list cast also made the production all the more appealing, but I never did make it to the theater to see Knives Out. Still, now that I have, I’ll admit it really isn’t something that’s quite as good as I anticipated it being.
I’m not sure what I expected of this, but figuring out who the baddie is as soon as said person appears in the present timeline wasn’t it; the prediction flashed through my mind before I dismissed it because a: I’m rarely right in the guessing game of plot twists, and b: I figured “nah, that’s too easy.” Granted perhaps this is intention as the film’s “twist” isn’t so much in the “who” of the mystery as it is in the “how.” It’s fun to see the case backtrack as Marta and Benoit chase clues, and to see how it plays out through Marta’s perspective, who’s really more of a central character than one first assumes.
I’m quite impressed with Ana de Armas and feel like she deserved any award nominations she received for this rule. She’s plays the part perfectly, and I find some of her character quirks funny, and endearing, though the greater reason she’s likable is that she feels like the only person who has any dignity (and scruples!). Then there’s Daniel Craig, who is also perfect as the old-fashioned Southern detective complete with a pitch perfect accent. What’s more, as a bit of movie trivia, Armas and Craig are co-stars in the new Bond film, which makes me wonder if they’ll be characters who share a lot of screen time or if, as sometimes these films do, they’ll merely share billing credit on the same film (with very little time together). Also in this ‘Knives’ cast list is Don Johnson.
When all is said and done, the question I have to answer is, did I still enjoy this film? The answer seems to trend towards yes. It is entertaining and funny in many ways, plus the cast isn’t too shabby. I think in part, it’s meant to be a kind of “basic” mystery (meaning not intricate) because the fun is in the ways people try to evade detection (to say more would be spoiler-y!) and keep a step (or two!) ahead of the game; and of course, in the characters themselves. Some of the film may feel like a bit of a letdown, but that’s subjective to me, and not to the viewers who, if you love a solid little Clue-like mystery, will find Knives Out supremely entertaining.
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Content: There’s 2-3 uses of the f-word, along with profanity like sh*t, or the typical commonplace words. There may be a few instances of innuendo, and of course, the film deals with murder and a mystery of “whodunit.”