Friday Film review-"Knives Out"

Dec 23, 2019

Libby Wadman, with the Friday Film Review, reports on a new movie that she says is “murderously good fun.”

Director and screenwriter Rian Johnson, known for "Brick" and his writing for the TV show "Breaking Bad", has returned with a fun mystery, "Knives Out"

Harlan Thrombey, renowned crime writer, dies mysteriously just after  he and his family celebrate his 85th birthday. Two local detectives, along with Benoit Blanc, a private investigator hired by a person or persons unknown, investigate the death. No easy feat given the number of family members present at the home, all of whom had a reason, it would seem, to kill Harlan.  Suicide, or murder most foul? That is the question.

Director/screenwriter Rian Johnson has done a marvelous job bringing a cast of stars together in a way in which they all shine without out shining anyone else. The screenplay is beautifully put together full of the requisite red herrings and plot twists that keep the audience guessing right up to the end. "Knives Out" is a brilliantly balanced combination of farce and reality. So well balanced, they are one. Johnson also nails the timing of certain comedic bits that are then perfectly delivered by the cast.

The cast does a superb job of creating over the top personas while keeping them rooted just enough in reality to make them acceptable to the viewer.  The actors’ energy and chemistry are strong across the board making "Knives Out" good fun if only to see all of these stars do what they do best, create magic. The cast of many includes Ana de Armas, Toni Collette, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Chris Evans and Daniel Craig. Craig’s performance is the one that is perhaps most noteworthy. He has totally shed his 007 character and embodied the New Orleans answer to Hercule Poirot, Benoit Blanc. Blanc, while similar to Poirot in his quirkiness, is totally Craig’s creation right down to, what is at times, a somewhat off kilter southern accent, that fits perfectly into this somewhat off kilter story.

Quite a bit of the film takes place in one room of Harlan Thrombey’s mansion. The cinematographer has created this scene in such a way that it is almost like watching a stage play. The central piece of these scenes is a wonderful metallic sculpture that acts almost like an evil halo around each suspect as they are questioned.

In "Knives Out", Rian Johnson has created the perfect formula for a totally engaging film:  A strong dash of Agatha Christie with a pinch of the game of Clue mixed with a strong cast, and then tossed with just the right balance of seriousness and levity. The formula worked so well, that "Knives Out" has been nominated for three Golden Globe awards in the Musical or Comedy categories: Best Picture, Daniel Craig for Best Actor, and Ana de Armas for Best Actress.

"Knives Out" is a quirky and thoroughly fun 2 hours and 10 minutes in length and is rated PG-13 for brief violence, drug material, some strong language and sexual references.

This is Libby Wadman with the Friday Film Review, reminding you that film is always fun and fascinating.