By James Davidson
“Knives Out” is a film centered around a successful mystery author named Harlan Thrombey (played by Christopher Plummer). Harlan is extremely wealthy and in declining health. His family, including his children, daughter Linda Drysdale (Jamie Lee Curtis), son Walt (Michael Shannon), and daughter-in-law , Joni Thrombey (Toni Collete), as well as their children and significant others, gather to celebrate Harlan’s birthday. The morning after the party, Harlan is discovered dead in his study of an apparent suicide. During the reading of the will, the greedy family is shocked to learn that Harlan has left his entire estate to his nurse Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas). While the family is being questioned about Harlan’s death, they learn that a famous, although eccentric, Southern detective named Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) has been hired by a mysterious client to investigate the death of Harlan.
Benoit quickly learns there are many skeletons in the closets of the Thrombey mansion, and all is most definitely not as it seems. The more the strange detective investigates, the more layers he uncovers to this complex mystery. Along with Marta and a helpful grandson, Ransom Drysdale (Chris Evans), Benoit hopes to uncover the truth behind Harlan’s mysterious death and who should be his rightful, deserving heir.
I was very excited to see this movie, not only did it have a strong cast featuring many well-known actors, the previews made it look very interesting and quite funny. It looked to be a character-driven mystery with a strong plot and some amusing situations.
The acting was definitely top notch. Led by Daniel Craig, the cast did a mesmerizing job at bringing these complex characters to life on the screen. The story is mostly character-driven, and the acting brings an already strong plot to the next level. All of the characters have their own little quirks and secrets. All of the actors do a great job at accurately portraying their characters; who have many layers and are intriguingly complex.
I thought the plot was extremely well-written. While it might not be entirely original, it’s a pretty standard “whodunit” mystery plot, with a set cast of characters, each with their own motives for being a murderer. The plot takes many twists and turns and really kept me guessing, but it is executed to perfection. I must have changed my mind about four or five times about who the murderer was, and even at the end, I still had it wrong. It’s very rare to get an original story in movies these days, and even rarer to get one executed as well as this one is.
One of my favorite things about this movie is the humour. I was expecting a great mystery with maybe a joke or two to lighten the mood. What I got was light, tasteful humour interwoven into the story seamlessly. None of the humour, or characters, is outlandishly over-the-top, but they are all turned just a touch above normal, enough to be funny, but still believable. The humour really lightens the mood in some of the darker scenes, but is subtle enough that I still took the movie seriously. There aren’t many outright jokes in the movie, but the humour instead relies on the characters and how they react to certain situations.
This movie is rated PG-13 for thematic elements including brief violence, some strong language, sexual references, and drug material. It wouldn’t be appropriate for young children, but might be fine for teenagers if you don’t mind a bit of crass humour. This movie would be great for a night out with friends or a fun date night.
“Knives Out” is a fun “whodunit” mystery, with an elaborate plot and amusing characters. Its humour and incredible acting make this one of the surprising gems on the big screen this year. I will be adding this movie to my collection and can’t wait to see it again. It earns 5 out of 5 stars.