KNIVES OUT [2019]


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Knives Out is a gleefully silly game of Cluedo that revels in its absurdity, never taking itself seriously, asking us to play along in Rian Johnson’s funny whodunnit tale, Johnson’s love-letter to Agatha Christie. The central characters are brilliant, all sensationalised in this light-hearted, very funny take on the droll subject of death – and more pertinently, what happens when the will left is by anyone wealthy and with a family. 

Such is the case here. The greed and selfishness between relatives that can occur if the reading of the will doesn’t go as expected sometimes destroy family ties, but this depressing aspect of the film is also depicted using the perfect tone. Comedic and whimsical, you’d be forgiven for forgetting this is about a man’s death.

Refreshingly, the mystery doesn’t take long to begin: In fact, Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), a well-known author and the rich patriarch of the family, is found dead in the opening scene. Soon his children have dollar signs in their eyes, suddenly eager to hear his will read, all expecting a cut of his vast portfolio. Despite celebrating his 85th birthday the night before, the will and nothing but the will is all anyone can now think about.

Before the will is scheduled to be read though, the matter of his death must be solved. The death of an 85 year-old family member seems like an internal affair, but a private detective is hired to investigate the death. He doesn’t know who hired him, but he received an envelope filled with cash and instructions to investigate the incident if Harlan died under certain circumstances. The case seems quite pointless, but when given a job, this private eye does not stop until the truth is found.

This private detective (Daniel Craig) soon becomes the centrepiece of the film. First two cops inform the family that Harlan’s death is to be investigated. The cops are asked who is sitting in the background, observing and not saying a word, and it is here that Craig makes his introduction. 

His name is Benoit Blanc (The European name perhaps a wink to Hercule Poirot, a well-known detective from Agatha Christie’s books), and one couldn’t be blamed for expecting a French accent. But Craig sports a consistently hilarious southern accent that never actually sounds like any person I’ve heard talk, rendering his name and odd accent as two oddities amongst many others. His constantly amusing demeanour is magnetic, while the detective is a smart, curious man with a keen nose.  

Appropriately this Sherlock Holmes has a very southern, charming and polite personality, which is helpful when interviewing an entire family about a fellow family member’s death. This also proves useful when he convinces Harlan’s carer, Marta (Ana de Armas), to join him. Marta could be his secret weapon as she physically cannot lie, obviously Blanc’s reason for asking her to join him as he strides around the house trying to put together the pieces. 

Marta is the moral compass of the film; Ana de Armas’ depiction of this shy carer is extremely convincing, and her unsmiling face and shy behaviour impressively contrast against the big personalities of nearly every other character. She is especially stoic when the script comes to the Thrombey’s casual racism about what country she is from exactly, pointless rants about illegal versus legal immigration, and lets not forget to mention the way every family member condescendingly look down at her while simultaneously saying that they will look after her – given Harlan Thrombey is dead and her future now unclear.

It is obvious that Craig is having fun here. His accent wavers constantly but I don’t think anyone ever cared, as it’s simply another element of the film to smile at. This unpredictable, passive-aggressively intense detective couldn’t be a more of an against-type character for Craig, as he is the centre of not only the twisty mystery, but also the comedy. Put simply, he nails it. His body language, especially the way he moves with cigar in hand (or mouth), rounds off the perfect, spotlight-stealing performance.

If anything, he is too good, as the actors playing the family members really need to keep up to be as memorable, or as close to it as possible. The entire cast comes very close: Jamie Lee Curtis is particularly intense as the oldest daughter Linda, while Chris Evans plays against-type himself, looking very young as the ratbag son of Linda and her husband Richard (Don Johnson), who is probably the most forgettable actor here. 

Fortunately though, since the incredible chemistry between the entire group is consistently evident, this doesn’t matter at all, plus he had some truly tough competition. Unsurprisingly, Michael Shannon is easily the best of the rest as Walt Thrombey: this character he is given to play is hilarious in his foolishness and ignorance, not to mention that beard, which couldn’t look more awkward, much like Walt’s himself. As a consequence, every time he is on screen, it is amusing. It’s a pity then that we don’t get to see enough of him, one small flaw which applies to other family members too.

This is almost the entire cast, barely any extras are needed as this almost entirely takes place inside Harlan’s giant house. It seems Rian Johnson has given his actors room to breathe life into the characters they have been given as it seems sure that much ad libbing took place here, and the ease in which they work together is obvious. The use of flashbacks is handled with ease as the puzzle is pieced together from mainly Blanc and Marta’s viewpoint. With a satisfying conclusion that isn’t too twist-filled when it easily could have been, Knives Out is hilarious, knee-slapping and almost tear inducing at times. This is the funniest, and most fun, film of the year. And it’s about a man’s death!

 

16 Comments on “KNIVES OUT [2019]

  1. I skimmed the second part of this because I plan on seeing it this weekend and I want to go in blind. I cannot wait to see it, I’m glad you loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry I’ve been away from your site recently, I need to subscribe so I get emails when you post, but I’ve mostly not been able to get that to work =/

      As for this, it is easily the funniest movie of this year and the last few too. I can’t think of anything close though I’m sure I’m missing a bunch. These characters are just so fun to watch!!

      You must tell me what you think! Daniel Craig…. oh man, you’ll love it I reckon. Remind me here with a comment if you post a review so I don’t forget ;P Hopefully I remember more to look at my fave blogs more, my memory has gotten so bad recently =/ Oh well, guess I’ll have to use notes like the guy in Memento! I’ll tattoo ‘visit blogs’ on my forearm 😛

      Like

  2. Pingback: 25+ Knives Out Reviews – the Massachusetts Mansion Used in Other Films – Movies, Movies, Movies

  3. Great review 🙂 This one was pretty interesting. And of course, who can forget the wonderful cast. Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

    P.S. Question: Do you have Netflix? And If so, you need to watch Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman on there because it is a masterpiece. How do I know? 🙂 I have watched it three times already, it is that great 🙂 I am sure you have seen trailers for it here and there on youtube and other places. If not, here is a youtube link to one of the three

    Also, here is a link to my blog entry of my favorite Scorsese films and you can see for yourself there where I rank it 🙂

    https://cinematiccoffee.com/2018/07/24/my-favorite-martin-scorsese-films/

    Like

    • Thanks! I’ll check that out, I need to watch more of his stuff. I’ve been away for the last two weeks, I’m gonna watch the Irishman today, I finally have time for it now.

      And I’ve avoided trailers intentionally, I know it’ll be good 😀 And trailers can often ruin movies these days

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Does anyone know if that Carson-Maitland Smith is a real person or not? When I click the name it takes me to my Facebook page, which makes me feel very, very weird. I want that shit dealt with. I have no idea what avenue to go down with WP. There is seemingly no Help Center with this site, which makes me feel pretty helpless. So I’m not sure who I’m really more irritated by — this Carson-Maitland Smith bot bitch or WordPress itself. If anyone has an answer, please let me know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is getting fucking annoying now. I’m still convinced its a bot. I mark it as spam every time but keep getting comments. Who fuckin’ knows

      Putting that aside tho, you gotta see this one!

      Like

      • I’ve looked the name up. It’s definitely a person. I’m just not sure why when I click the name it takes me to my Facebook page. Makes me feel like I’m being hacked.

        Like

      • see that shit makes me feel like it is a bot withj some advanced scripting. Cos there is no profile for it, at least when I looked. I makr it as spam every time but it keeeps coming thru

        WP help were great for me the one time I used it, I might try again

        Liked by 1 person

      • He has a Facebook page. I checked. I’m just going to do my best to ignore his trolling, 99% of the time they have nothing to do with the post on which he’s leaving a comment. Far be it from me to tell someone how they should interact on someone’s blog but man, off topic comments on my own blog drive me nuts haha

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve only seen random comments that don’t even relate to film and are usually formatted exactly the same. Some bots people have written for IRC can easily convince you they are a real person, that’s why I think is. But if there is a facenook page as well, the question has to be, why?

        Like

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