Knives Out

2019-12-21

This evening I saw Knives Out. A bit off-brand, I know: no aliens, demons, or super people. Occasionally I do see things grounded in the here-and-now or the non-alternate past.

Short review: I liked it.

To expand on that, it was essentially a who-dunnit, with a twist. (Much like The Last Jedi, the only other Rian Johnson movie I saw, was a Star War that subverted expectations yet played well within the bounds of the genre and setting.) Christopher Plummer plays a wealthy mystery novel writer who is found dead, apparently by his own hand. But was it murder? Somebody thinks so, and put a famous private detective – Daniel Craig with a passable Cajun accent – on the case. Suspects include the deceased’s parasitic children, overly sheltered grandchildren, in-laws, and assorted hangers-on, all of whom have, as the police detective calls them, “weaksauce motives”.

We’ve seen this before, so many times, and it’s played as a comedy, particularly when we find out the deceased’s nurse cannot tell a lie, and pukes if she tries. And then, about halfway through, we find out what really happened, and the story gets much darker. It’s not a “cosy” murder by any means; it’s a tradegy of innocent but fatal errors that could doom one of the few innocents in the whole mess. It’s Columbo if the “murderer” wasn’t a rich asshole who was too clever but a well-meaning struggling servant who made an honest mistake. The pressure rises almost unbearably on the one person who knows the truth, as they’re caught between a detective who gets too close and various members of the quarreling, grasping family.

Special shoutouts to:

The twist ending is maybe a little too clever, although (once again) well within the bounds of the cosy murder mystery genre.

Anyway, thumbs up, fresh tomato, whatever. Would watch again.