Cert 12 A | ★★★★★
Shot in London’s theatreland during the second Covid lockdown, this new comedy mystery from Tom George (BBC’s This Country) stars Sam Rockwell (Moon, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri) and Saoirse Ronan (Ladybird, Little Women) as two 1950s cops on the hunt for a serial killer.
Dubbed a “whodunit within a whodunit”, See How They Run parodies Agatha Christie’s iconic play The Mousetrap - London’s longest running play - and features a star-studded cast list which also includes Adrien Brody (The Pianist), Ruth Wilson (True Things), David Oyelowo (A United Kingdom) and Harris Dickinson (Where The Crawdads Sing).
In the West End of 1950s London, plans for a big screen version of a hit play end abruptly when Leo Köpernick (Brody), the film’s obnoxious and universally despised Hollywood director is murdered on the night of the play’s 100th run. Enter heavy-drinking, world weary Inspector Stoppard (Rockwell) and overenthusiastic rookie Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan) who’ve been paired up by their superior (Tim Key) in the hope they might solve the case.
While star-struck film and theatre fan Constable Stalker is soon taken in by the glitz and glamour of it all, Stoppard would rather be anywhere than surrounded by a bunch of pampered luvvies. As corpses begin piling up backstage, everyone is both a suspect and a potential victim. The whole thing culminates in an eventful impromptu get together at the home of a certain Mrs Christie (Shirley Henderson, brilliant).
Rockwell and Ronan give two on the nose performances, even if the latter’s character is often unnecessarily, the butt of every joke. Still the two make for a match made in heaven with Ronan’s wide-eyed optimism the perfect antidote for Rockwell’s taciturn worldview.
Dickinson is hilarious as an infuriatingly pompous young Dickie Attenborough while Oyelowo gives an all too rare and very convincing comedic turn as flamboyant screenwriter Mervyn Cocker-Norris.
Elevated by Mark Chappell’s hilariously funny screenplay and some deliciously playful one-liners, See How They Run is the kind of whodunnit Kenneth Branagh was trying for with Death On The Nile. The film has it all, two central characters one can’t help but root for, a genuinely intriguing murder-mystery and a dialogue packed full of inuendo. I can’t remember the last time I laughed this much at the cinema.