Yes, yes, it’s been a while since the 2019 film “Knives Out” was released, but better late than never. Consider it a retro review *cough cough*.
Everything about this movie looks like it’s out of a Agatha Christie mystery, making it an absolute delight for viewers who love a little nostalgic charm in their films. Directed and written by Rian Johnson, “Knives Out” has an interesting cast, with some very big names on the cast.
Set in a sprawling mansion that seems secluded from the bustle of city-life, this flick is about the possible murder of 85-year-old Harlan Thrombey, a wealthy murder-mystery author, who had his own lucrative publishing business. Prima facie, it appears to be suicide, but a famous private investigator Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is hired by an anonymous beneficiary to look into the death, hinting there might be more than what meets the eye.
Harlan has three children, the eldest one is Linda Drsydale (Jamie Lee Curtis), who is business-partners with her own husband Mr Richard Drysdale (Don Johnson). The couple have a son, Ransom Drysdale (Chris Evans), who simply lives off on the family money. Second in line is a deceased son, survived by a leechy flamboyant wife called Joni (Toni Collette) and young daughter Meg (Katherine Langford) who is in college, her tuition fee is paid for by Harlan. His youngest son Walt Thrombey (Michael Shannon) runs the publishing business for him. Interestingly, the old man had a spat with pretty much everybody on the night of his death, making everyone a potential suspect. Although they all lie to the cops. So Benoit Blanc decides to rope in the help of Marta Cabrera (Ana De Armas), the nervous nurse of Mr Harlan, who has the strange condition of puking if she lies. Serves as pretty good comic relief throughout the movie.
Rian Johnson uses all the classic tropes of murder mystery novels, giving each character motive for murder, subverting viewers attention to someone completely unexpected, only to give us a murderer we should have doubted all along. ‘Knives Out’ at some points feels almost like a parody of the genre, even though it isn’t as hilarious.
Ana De Armas is quite endearing as the kind-hearted nurse, stuck in a messy murder case, with a ruthless family for company. It was fun to see Chris Evans play a spoiled rich man-child, instead of his usual Captain America idealism. Daniel Craig was mildly interesting as a famous detective, but he gets by fine. Everyone else didn’t have too much time on the screen, so they do just fine in their limited appearances. However, actor K Callan who plays Harlan’s mom, was a total show-stealer in the few seconds she gets, despite having pretty much no dialogue.
Both visually and plot-wise, the movie is quite engaging. Harlan’s large house is filled with props from his murder-mystery novels, and since a lot of the story unfolds in the mansion, there’s a lot of interesting little details that viewers can pick up, helping them guess some of the later twists that come up. The director cleverly weaves in the political issue of immigration into the script, without getting too serious or preachy about it. Then there is the family politics of rich families, especially when a large inheritance is at stake. Although, there wasn’t as much hate or knives going about as the title suggests. Everybody is more than happy to just assume the patriarch is dead, and one of the biggest twists, slightly predictable at that, comes a little late into the run-time. So the climax feels a little underwhelming.
The one big complain some might have with the film is the fact that the makers aren’t able to flesh the characters out properly, due to lack of time. With a large talented cast at his disposal, Rian Johnson could’ve done much more, but giving some of them more screen-space would also mean taking the risk of slowing down the pace of the script and maybe even boring the viewer.
Overall, ‘Knives Out’ is a fun ensemble movie that one can watch with the whole family. It’s a 7.5/10 from me.
Subscribe to our podcast on YouTube by the same name – Abstract AF
Listen to episode 29 for some fun movie recommendations.