LFF 2019: Knives Out – Review

Release date – 27th November 2019, Cert – 12, Run-time – 2 hours 10 minutes, Director – Rian Johnson

A private investigator (Daniel Craig) tries to find the true cause of a wealthy writers death by making his way through every member of his extended family

“A whodunnit like no one has ever dunnit” ran the tagline for much of the advertising for Rian Johnson’s exceptionally clever murder mystery. Knives Out very much lives up to this label in a number of ways. Not only does it feel fresh and unique, a fine new take on the murder-mystery detective genre that seems to be gradually reviving, but also the fact that at times it feels as if nobody has actually done the murder – living up to the other tagline of “Hell, any of them could have done it”. Something which the film leads the audience to think on a number of occasions over the course of its proceedings.

Throughout the entire fast-paced run-time of Knives Out the viewer is kept on the very edge of their seat. Leaning in further and further to the screen, as much as possible; simply to relish ever single clue and detail that the film has to offer. Jumping right into the plot with Lakeith Stainfield’s lieutenant Elliott interviewing members of the Thrombey family. A wealthy family descending from the recently deceased author Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer). The family is made up of an insanely all-star cast including Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Chris Evans, Ana De Armas, Katherine Langford and Toni Collette – all of whom are having great fun being a part of this film. However, none more so than Daniel Craig as private investigator extraordinaire Benoir Blanc.

Blanc’s name itself sounds like one direct from an Agatha Christie novel, something which Johnson’s screenplay, and in fact direction, leans very strongly into. Feeling already like a classic of the genre, the status of which it’s guaranteed to instantly earn. Throughout the various twists, turns and red herrings that the film has to offer the viewer is invited to play along, double-guessing themselves, backtracking and – much like the flawed detective at the heart of the investigation – sometimes being purely uncertain as to who might have actually done the murder. All this coming from the intricately detailed and shocking nature of the story. At times you simply don’t want to breath so that you can savour every single element that each individual frame has to offer. This is cinema, pure, enthralling cinema that grips you from the very start. Commanding your attention and bringing you totally into another world that you just want to visit again and again – something which can easily be done, to notice the details missed the first time around. Much of this stemming from the intense originality that flows thick and fast throughout the entire narrative.

What makes Knives Out work so well as a fresh take is how well it uses simple conventions. Ideas that we all know and recognise, some left alone, other slightly twisted, to lead to the best possible response of not knowing what to believe and what not to believe, especially with such shadowy and potentially devious characters. Each individual figure having their own unique personality, helping to flesh everything out further and make an even more involving nature to the film as a whole. As mysteries begin to layer – never getting in the way of each other – and the film becomes much more of an enthralling rollercoaster, the personalities still shine. Nothing ever vanishes, is forgotten about or simply lost track of, everything has order amongst the chaos of the investigation – something which is used for full impact in the third act, where the viewer begins to wonder whether there even will be a big reveal.

Everything masterfully blends together to create a finely made cocktail of mystery. One that engages, entertains and powers through with full force from start to finish. Never loosening the tight grip that it so strongly holds on the viewer at any point over the fast-paced, quick-flowing, insanely clever, tension filled run-time. Knives Out is a pure, cinematic joy and definitely one of the best films of the year. A true modern classic.

From start to finish Knives Out is a brilliantly clever and fantastically tense murder mystery. Filled with great performances from a cast that are clearly having great fun that helps to get across the energy of the piece. Overflowing with detail and gloriously involving it’s nothing less than a truly phenomenal piece of work.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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