"Knives Out" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
Rian Johnson's "Knives Out" is a wildly entertaining movie that leaves you on the edge of your seat throughout the whole runtime. We open up on the death of multi-millionaire mystery author Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer). He was found by his housekeeper Fran (Edi Patterson) with his throat slit and knife still in hand. All the evidence points to suicide, but famous detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) thinks there has been foul play involved.
We are then introduced to our suspects. We meet daughter Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis) who has a horrible, cheating husband named Richard (Don Johnson) and a horrible son named Ransom (Chris Evans). Then there is the youngest son Walt (Michael Shannon), who runs his father's publishing empire and has been fighting with his dad for a while. Daughter-in-law Joni (Toni Collette), who has been scamming Harlan out of his money. Finally, we meet Marta (Ana de Armas), who was Harlan's caretaker and most trusted confidante.
The acting in this film is delightful and entertaining. You can obviously see the hate in all these characters towards each other. From the fighting scenes to the interrogation scenes, the family members are full of so much hate and self-pity that it comes out of their ears. Johnson provides contrast to this with the character of Marta, who is depressed over the death of Harlan and just wants to get out of the whole situation with the family.
The cinematography of the film is beautiful, and is able to tell a story without showing much at all. Looking back at the film, we didn't see many of the actual family fights behind closed doors till the last segment of the film. Instead, we view the shocked and saddened reactions of the other characters. I think this does more for the film as we see how it affects everyone in the family when there are numerous fights. I also love the scene where Marta leaves the house after the will-reading, and the camera switches to handheld when the family chases after her. You get that feeling of uncontrollable chaos, and the shakiness of the handcam provides that feeling very well.
Despite the heavy promotion of Chris Evans being a major player in this film, he isn't really in it till the last half of the film. I personally thought that was an excellent strategy by Johnson. There is so much suspense surrounding his character, and we thoroughly enjoy his interactions with Marta when he finally comes into the picture.
This film, like every other whodunnit before it, reveals things in such unexpected ways that you think you have figured the mystery out, before Johnson totally flips it around. This film is excellent, and his writing and directing were superb. If Harlan Thrombey was still alive, this would be a mystery he probably would have enjoyed.