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Knives Out (2019)

Here is a movie for Agatha Christie fans.

I like watching murder mystery stories mostly as TV series, but I realized I don’t see as much in cinema. The last one I saw was Murder Mystery, a Netflix film starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. I would recommend you to watch it only to compare it to Knives Out and realize how well-written the latter is in contrast.

The writer and director of the film, Rian Johnson, asks press in particular not to spill the movie’s secrets, so of course, I also won’t give away the plot.

The film is a modern take on the classic whodunnit story. Modern in a way that not only includes Instagram jokes, but the film raises issues around minorities and immigrants. The story begins as Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), a world-famous writer and publisher, is found dead the morning after his 85th birthday party.

Among the suspects, there are household workers, his children, their spouses, and grandchildren. Every character is eccentric, and all of them are played by amazing actors, who give outstanding performances. Such cast comes with one downside only, and it is that these amazing actors, unfortunately, fall back as minor characters. As the rich cast leads to reduced on-screen time for each, you might feel disappointed that you didn’t get to see more of them. 

The private investigator hired to solve the mystery comes with his own mysteries. Benoit Blanc, played by Daniel Craig with an accent, wanders on the edge of being a great or a lousy detective. The second major character Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas), is Thrombey’s beloved nurse. The family members claim she is like part of the family, yet nobody knows which South American country she is from.

What I enjoyed a lot is that the huge house is also like another character in the movie. Befitting the Harlan Thrombey as a writer of mysterious stories, even the house has its mysteries. Secret doors, windows, and hiding places reveal how the writer was living in his storybook all his life.

Knives Out stands out from classic whodunnits as some critical information is not hidden until the end as it usually would. There are many scenes and flashbacks that you wouldn’t see in the traditional stories. A bunch of information is revealed since the beginning, yet the mystery unravels in various other ways. Some clues are more obvious than others, but following the story never gets boring.

When asked why he revealed Judy’s secret earlier in Vertigo, Alfred Hitchcock asks: “Do you prefer surprise or suspense?”, telling he favors suspense over surprise. Johnson finds a perfect balance between the two in Knives Out. The film is streaming on Amazon Prime for the ones who missed seeing it in the theatres.

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