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Knives Out is my first movie review for 2020. It’s a fun film. Fans of whodunnits or the game Clue will enjoy this wild twisty turny story peopled with outrageous characters.
Check out the spoiler free review and catch this comedy mystery in the theater before it’s gone.
Knives Out Cast
Knives Out stars Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, LaKeith Stanfield, Christopher Plummer, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martel, Riki Lindhome and K Callan. Rian Johnson wrote and directed the film. It carries a PG-13 rating, for mild violence and moderate profanity, and has a run time of 2 hours and 10 minutes.
Knives Out is nominated for an Oscar, for Best Original Screenplay.
Head of the family Harlan Thrombey (Plummer) is an eccentric, wealthy crime novelist. For his 85th birthday, he invites his entire family to his mansion to celebrate and then receive important news.
The family arrives, full of expectations. Daughter Linda (Curtis), the real estate mogul, fawns over her father, fusses with husband Richard (Johnson) and frets about their rebellious son Ransom (Evans). Daughter-in-law Joni (Collette), wife of Harlan’s deceased son Neil, brings along her daughter Megan (Langford), eager for monetary handouts. And younger son Walter (Shannon), ever in his father’s shadow, rounds out the family group with his shrill wife Donna (Lindhome) and teenage son Jacob (Martell). The family continually circles around their patriarch, not with concern and care but like predators watching for weakness.
And weakness is present with advancing age. Harlan employs Marta (de Armas) as his caretaker. She not only administers his meds and ensures his rest, she listens to Harlan’s stories and plays a complicated board game called Go with him every evening. Their relationship is more meaningful and genuine than any of the familial connections.
The morning after his birthday party, with all of his family spending the night in the house, Harlan Thrombey is found dead. Although his death is initially thought a suicide, the household is turned upside down when the police arrive.
As Detective Benoit Blanc (Craig) and Lieutenant Elliot (Stanfield) question every family member, the complete truth floats just out of reach. Reality shifts with each interview. Relationships aren’t what they seem. Motives are uncovered. Greed and fear of missing out create a desperation that causes “knives to come out”.
Blanc calmly and methodically sorts through the deceptions, ever closing in on the truth. He combines shrewdness with keen observation to uncover what really happened on the night of Harlan’s birthday party.
My Thoughts on Knives Out
In spite of the darker subject, this is a fun movie. Much like in the old Columbo television series, the viewers know more about the situation than the characters in the film do, including Detective Blanc. And yet, there are plot twists that make the story a true whodunnit for the audience as well. As I watched, my mind sorted through stories and statements along with Blanc, puzzling out who was who and how motives drove each person.
Daniel Craig surprises as soon as he opens his mouth. His character speaks with a deep southern drawl, which honestly took me a few minutes to get used to. How do actors master those accents? He is a delight, in a role that differs greatly from his portrayal of James Bond and yet makes use of some of those attributes. He is clever and charming and ever watchful.
One of the more comedic roles comes from K Callan, who portrays Harlan’s mother. If he’s celebrating his 85th birthday, how old is she? No one in the family knows! The dear lady isn’t senile, just invisible to her family. One of the more touching scenes in the film involves her too and a conversation between her and Blanc.
I Love a Good Mystery
Knives Out is funny, playful, thoughtful and satisfying in its conclusion. I love a good mystery. In fact, a whodunnit is one of my favorite film genres. I enjoyed Murder on the Orient Express too.
Have you seen Knives Out yet? Or do you have a favorite whodunnit? I want to know. Maybe you’ve seen one that I’ve missed!
Check out these whodunnits from Amazon:
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