What could be better than a detective black comedy about a family in which everyone hates one another behind their back, in this wonderful new year’s eve? Not much. And the grotesque story of “Knives Out” fits perfectly into this season.
It is difficult to call Ryan Johnson a prolific director — his track record is small, the most striking event in it was “Star Wars: the Last Jedi”. However, he was noted as a director in the most, perhaps, unusual episodes of the series “breaking bad” — for example, in the one with the fly and pollution. Therefore, we can say that he can handle pseudo-serious humorous situations. This way the idea of “Knives Out” was born almost 15 years ago.
The plot seems simple at first glance:
- a well-off head of the family died in an intricate-architecture house
- well-known author of detective stories Harlan Thrombi
- played by Christopher Plummer
It looks like a suicide. But he died the night after the birthday party, when all his numerous relatives gathered in the house. And Rodney had reasons to wish his grandfather dead, as it turned out.
The police are joined in the investigation by a very great and famous detective Benoit Blanc, played by Daniel Craig. He smokes cigars, speaks with a strangely rounded, half-drunk pseudo-french accent, loves metaphors about rainbows and doughnuts, and, as befits a very great and famous detective, is very attentive and mysterious. However, he has his own goal: one, no doubt, wonders what happened that night, but detective Blanc learned about this case from an anonymous letter in which a hefty wad of dollars was attached to a newspaper clipping with the news of the writer’s death. So, the detective understands there’s something wrong here, and to figure out the anonymous letter and unveil the terrible consequences of death.
Watching the entire film is very much like watching “In Bruges” by Martin McDonagh
This is such a grotesque, deliberate farce, bustling with allusions to the classics of the top movies genre, but either turned inside out, or generously strewn with sequins. Behind all this tinsel of sarcasm and parody, the detective moment takes a bit of a back seat, giving way to comedy. And all this, of course, is done up in intriguing dialogues.
The elements of comedy are randomly scattered throughout the film — some moments make you burst out laughing, some do so only a little. In some moments, this is facilitated by editing, in others, the plot itself reveals the funny features of the characters. For example, the writer’s nurse, migrant daughter Martha, played by Ana de Armas, is sick when trying to lie. This grants no need to use a polygraph during interrogations. And, let’s face it, the film looks bright. This is one of the few things Ryan should have managed to screw it into the plot without the inherent physiological features of excessive vulgarity. Due to this ability, Martha becomes a kind of doctor Watson in history.
This ode to the genre is somewhat reminiscent of Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”. In “Knives Out” you can feel such an immediate love, combined with a desire to turn the genre around, rethink, restore and revive it, and Johnson chose irony as the mechanism for doing so.
The camera-like nature of the film, the almost complete absence of special effects and shooting make it very lively and real, which is rare in the modern era, according to Rotten Tomatoes. And this rarity is very easy and pleasant to enjoy.