Disclaimer: This film is rated PG-13 as it contains usage of strong language, some inappropriate references, and references to drug material, brief violence, and thematic elements.
2019 was undoubtedly a year full of remarkable movies.
To begin with, there was the unforgettable Avengers: Endgame that topped off the twenty-two film series of the Marvel Universe and became the highest grossing film of all time. It was immediately followed up by Spider-Man: Far from Home, whose revenue was more than a billion dollars–the most for any Spider-Man movie created. Then there was Frozen II, the long-awaited sequel to the princess movie nobody could ever seem to let go, along with the final movie in the Toy Story series that people have been buzzing about since it was announced in 2014. Perhaps less well-known is the intense film 1917 that earned high praise for its accurate portrayal of the World War I battlefield in two continuous shots and gained a spot in the IMDB Top one-hundred films. Possibly even less well known is the film Knives Out.
Despite its competitive counterparts of the year, Knives Out received notable attention by critics and viewers alike. Upon hearing the title of the movie, one may initially imagine a horror film or violent thriller; instead, it is a rather fascinating murder mystery that reminisces on the works of Agatha Christie. Perhaps one may be wondering if that’s any better, but contrary to what it may suggest, the dark elements that tend to naturally complement murder mysteries, especially those of Christie’s plots, is much less prominent. Filled with witty humor and eccentric characters, the movie earned special praise for its ability to cause the audience to quickly find themselves from sitting at the edge of their seats to rolling with laughter. The director, Rian Johnson, who was inspired by Christie’s works and the Choose Your Own Adventure series, attributes such a feat to his stellar cast, which includes legends like Don Johnson, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Christopher Plummer, and more modern stars such as Daniel Craig and Chris Evans. While Rian Johnson praised the cast for taking the script and making it more humorous than he had initially envisioned, every member of the cast attributed the movie’s success to Johnson, some even saying that it was the best script they had seen. Moreover, each testified about how fun and creative the experience was to act as a stereotyped family and admitted that they would love to star in another film directed by Johnson.
Perhaps what is so amazing about the film is that such comedy and wit fail to rob any thrill of the riveting plot. The film begins in dark lighting and depicts a gothic, old-fashioned mansion, a setting that could’ve been easily mistaken for the eighteenth or nineteenth century. Inside, a lone housemaid chances upon a dead old man in his room whom she was about to attend to. Beginning with such scenes was strategically placed to provide a conventional Agatha Christie-like atmosphere coated with mystery.
The next morning, the dead man is identified as Harlan Thrombey, a wealthy crime author. Just before his death, a family gathering had taken place to celebrate his eighty-fifth birthday. Amidst the party, the viewer can immediately observe the paternal relationship between Thrombey and his young nurse Marta, a feisty but indistinct argument between Thrombey and his grandson Ransom, and a general uneasy air among each attendant.
Back to the present, an anonymously summoned detective, Benoit Blanc, comes onto the scene to discover the unknown cause of Thrombey’s death. After interviewing each of Thrombey’s adult relations, all of whom had attended the gathering, Blanc realizes that each member is lying for various personal reasons somehow connected with quarrels about family and financial affairs they recently had with Thrombey. Such pervasive dishonesty in every person elicits Blanc’s immediate suspicion of foul play. Through flashbacks and confessions, the viewer gains the impression that Marta is much more than just a nurse to Thrombey since he treated her as one would a granddaughter. But even though her reciprocated love and care for Thrombey seems so genuine and heartfelt, all the evidence appears to point at her. Caught up in Blanc’s investigation of who the real murderer is, Marta finds herself in the tangled mess of a rather peculiar family affair.
“Knives out, beaks bloody… It’s a twisted web. And we’re not finished untangling it, not yet…” Benoit Blanc declares in the film. The ingenious balance between enigma and humor, the creative inclusion of witty remarks and hilarious family stereotypes, and the unexpected plot twists and irony provide a perfect opportunity for a thrilling, belly-aching Friday night.
Avengers: Endgame. (2020, August 18). Retrieved August 18, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avengers:_Endgame
Spider-Man: Far From Home. (2020, August 15). Retrieved August 18, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spider-Man:_Far_From_Home
Knives Out. (2020, August 19). Retrieved August 24, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knives_Out
Coders, A. (2019). [Digital image]. Retrieved 2020, from [Digital image]. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://images8.alphacoders.com/105/thumb-1920-1052048.jpg