Rian Johnson (director)
27 November 2019 (released)
24 November 2019
For those of a certain vintage there’s And Then There Were None and associated films, for me it’s the likes of Death on the Nile, more recently Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express. The Agatha Christie sleuth and murder mystery has been successfully translating to the big screen for decades. The large starry casts are fun for the audience and probably for them too. Knives Out hasn’t broken that mould but has tried to introduce some new elements.
Rich and world-renowned crime writer Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) has apparently committed suicide on his 85th birthday in his luxurious pile. The police are called in to investigate what appears to be a routine job. They are however accompanied but one Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) a private detective sporting a southern accent not heard since the days of Foghorn Leghorn. Intently listening on to the interviews, a hits a piano key when something appears off.
This puts them on edge, and with some reason as to a person they have their reasons for foul play to be suspected as the film unfolds. There’s Harlan's children Walt and Linda (Michael Shannon and Jamie Lee Curtis), the latter married to Richard (Don Johnson) and their son Ranson (Chris Evans). There’s also Joni (Toni Collette) and Jacob Thrombey (Jaeden Martell). Into this and a token part of the family is Marta (Ana de Armas) Harlan’s nurse.
It is a large cast with plenty to do as writer and director Rian Johnson shares out the scenes pretty much without favour so none should feel short-changed exposure wise, and all are given plenty of rope...
As you’d expect it is intricately plotted though deviating somewhat from the norm early on thus shifting the audience’s perspectives and expectations. It’s a clever idea and should all fall together and be a lot of fun. It just isn’t
It is an incredibly technical film very tightly directed and played, set for the most part in sumptuous wood panelled rooms in a very large house set in extensive wooded grounds. The ingredients are all there and looks fabulous. But for all that and the fun that the cast are having, who to a lesser or greater extent are hamming it up, there’s a slick vapidity about it. Which means you tend to admire it rather than enjoying it as the romp is was intended to be.