Knives Out

December 2, 2019

I think what I like most about this, and part of why this film is getting such universal raves, is that it’s a throwback. It’s a really classic, traditional murder mystery. It’s a pre-CSI, ridiculous forensic technology dependent mystery. It’s an Agatha Christie, Midsomer Murders mystery with big personalities and family drama and a personable investigator from outside who arrives to comment on it all. Anyone can see the clues and piece together what happened just by looking, by listening. If you’re clever enough. I hesitate to call this “Hipster American Poirot.” But, well, there it is.

Much like we’ve been starved for uplifting superhero movies, I wonder if audiences have been starved for this.

The other reason the film’s getting raves is that there’s a lot more going on. There’s also a layer of very pointed social commentary about immigration and privilege and what kind of behavior people are willing to tolerate as long as their own status isn’t threatened. Daniel Craig’s detective, southern gentleman Benoit Blanc (Tell me he isn’t an American riff on Poirot. Go on.) is almost ridiculous (Poirot meets Columbo, just about — this film knows what it’s doing). But also like Poirot he picks the straightforward young woman amidst all the chaos to be his ally. Marta, the nurse who’s been taking care of Harlan Thrombey, whose mysterious death drives the plot, is the daughter of immigrants. She’s an outsider, too. And it’s her choices that matter in this.

The cast is phenomenal. That’s the main reason I went to see this. But what holds the movie up is the classic mystery structure, which comforts us that the truth is knowable and justice is possible.

 

One Response to “Knives Out”

  1. Al H. Says:

    Loved the movie and agree with you 110%. Mash up of Sleuth [ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069281/?ref_=rt_li_tt ], Clue [ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088930/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 ] and Poirot’s iconic Murder on the Orient Express [ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0071877/?ref_=ttls_li_tt ] would be my best estimation.


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