Monday 11 May 2020

Knives Out - 2019 film review

Knives Out (2019) - IMDb

Knives Out has attracted a lot of attention as a high profile film which is also in the vein of the traditional mystery. The cast is superb, led by Daniel Craig (sporting an unlikely American accent) and including such famous names as Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Frank Oz, and Christopher Plummer. Reviews and audiences have been very positive, and there is talk of a sequel being made.

Plummer plays Harlan Thrombey, a crime novelist who is cared for by a nurse, Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas) has made a fortune from his books (well, it is fiction..) and who invites members of his family, in classic fashion, to his great mansion to celebrate his 85th birthday. Needless to say, there is a lot of jockeying for position among the greedy and undeserving, and again in traditional manner the contents of Harlan's will play a central part in the story.

We know from the start that Thrombey is dead, but a good deal of mystery surrounds the precise circumstances. The police are willing to treat the case as one of suicide, but an unknown person hires the great private detective Benoit Blanc (Craig) to investigate. Craig has a lot of fun in this part. He's an actor I really like, although I did struggle to get accustomed to that accent.

The film is written and directed by Rian Johnson and his screenplay manages to keep you interested in the plot while making points about greed, power, and entitlement. I find it very interesting that, many years after Alfred Hitchcock highlighted the difficulties inherent in filming whodunits, a young film-maker has shown that it's possible to entertain twenty-first century filmgoers with a puzzle mystery. 



TracyK said...

I saw this post this morning but waited until tonight to comment because we had not watched it yet. Then I came back to see what you thought.

I enjoyed the movie a lot, it kept me wondering throughout. I am from Alabama (although I have lived in California over 40 years) and we were discussing Daniel Craig's accent. My husband thought they implied it was a Kentucky accent, I got the impression it might be New Orleans, and it did not sound exactly like it would be Alabama or Mississippi. I think it was close enough to accept as a real accent and that the character was emphasizing it to seem like a hick and disarm the suspects.

Anyway, a very fun movie and I liked your evaluation of it.

Martin Edwards said...

Very interested to hear about the accent from someone who knows! Thanks, Tracy.

Michael Dirda said...

Benoit Blanc certainly sounds like a New Orleans name, though at one point a member of the family refers to his hick Kentucky-colonel accent. Still, that could be a generic New England putdown of a Southerner.
I enjoyed the movie, but found the plot full of logical flaws. A trained nurse wouldn't leave a bag full of narcotics at her patient's house. The police would certainly have spotted the broken trellis piece when they first investigated the crime. Why would someone blackmailing a ruthless murderer want to meet with him or her in a deserted building? Even if Thrombey was able to come up with his plots in a quick flash of inspiration, his complicated plan to help Marta strained my willing suspension of disbelief. Still, an enjoyable film. --Michael Dirda