Rian Johnson’s enjoyable murder mystery film Knives Out is at once classicist and modern. On one hand it’s a lavishly mounted pastiche on the classic whodunits of Agatha Christie and Conan Doyle, where a gentleman sleuth in a dapper suit makes use of minute clues, half-truths and circumstantial conjectures for solving a case. On the other hand, it also had undercurrents of social commentary, in its evocation of class politics as well as in its vocal critique of the rising reactionary wave of xenophobia and majoritarian supremacy in opposition to immigration and multiculturalism. The death of wealthy crimewriter Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), on the night of his 85th birthday party, invites the visit of Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), a renowned detective with a hilarious Southern drawl, to the Thrombey mansion in order to investigate the potential crime. What he finds is a dysfunctional family of pampered, devious and self-centered hypocrites who’d go to any lengths to secure their share of inheritance – Harlan’s egoist daughter (Jamie Lee Curtis) who started her business thanks to her father, her philandering husband (Don Johnson), and their narcissistic brat of a son (Chris Evans); Harlan’s slimy son (Michael Shannon) who runs his father’s publishing company, his right-wing fanatic wife (Riki Lindhome) and their alt-right teenage son; Harlan’s widowed daughter-in-law (Toni Collette), who’s a lifestyle guru and siphon’s Harlan’s money on the side, etc. And then there’s Harlan’s gentle-natured nurse (Ana de Amas), a Latin-American girl whose origin is hilariously confused as Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil by the wretched family members. Even if too slight to be taken very seriously, the film nevertheless was both funny and stinging in its parody and satire.
Director: Rian Johnson
Genre: Crime Comedy/Mystery/Ensemble Film