Film review: Knives Out

This is a fresh take on the whodunnit, says Linda Marric


In 2017, Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson came in for a considerable amount of criticism from a small but vocal group of disgruntled fans of the popular series, seemingly unhappy with the franchise’s new direction. Despite this the film went on to break box-office records and was by and large fairly well received by critics, some even calling it one of the best films in the 40- year-old franchise history.

Taking a  break from all things Star Wars  before hopping back on board next year to direct a new trilogy in the franchise, the writer-director returns with Knives Out, a sharp, witty and irresistible twist on the popular whodunnit genre.

Jamie Lee Curtis and Marvel’s very own Captain America, Chris Evans, head an impressive ensemble cast as they star alongside Don Johnson (Miami Vice), Toni Collette (Hereditary) and Michael Shannon (Boardwalk Empire) as members of a wealthy American family suspected of foul play after the mysterious death of one of their own.

When wealthy crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is found dead at his country mansion, having seemingly taken his own life the day after his 85th birthday, things don’t quite seem to add up. Enter private detective Benoit Blanc (a scenery-chewing turn courtesy of Daniel Craig ), a Poirot-like investigator with a sharp southern twang and a long list of unanswered questions.

Soon, all members of this deeply dysfunctional family find themselves under suspicion of killing the old man, each having more than one reason to benefit from his early demise. With the help of Harlan’s former nurse and confidant Marta (an impressive Ana de Armas), Blanc attempts to piece the story together, but things look to be far more complex than expected.

Johnson has taken the murder mystery genre and flipped it on its head in this engaging comedy of errors. By setting it in the present day, the director has demonstrated that murder mystery narratives can finally move away from the restrictive rigidity of never-ending Agatha Christie adaptations.

It’s clear from the outset that Johnson has a real passion for a genre often tarnished by stale and unoriginal adaptations. And while the first half of the film sometimes feels too expositional, there is no denying that this is handsomely made film from a director who knows his craft inside out.

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