When you look within a donut hole, what will you find? Another donut hole, that leads to another donut hole within that donut hole. It's a never-ending barrage of donut holes- at least that's what Daniel Craig says, and in his Southern drawl, it sounds hilariously credible.
Knives Out (2019) definitely placed itself at the top of my 2019 films of the year list. Written and directed by Rian Johnson, he has proven once again that he knows how to take a genre, and take your expectations of a film, then just veer them off course. For some, they don't like it, but for others- like myself- it makes for an unpredictable and fun movie experience.
Knives Out is a contemporary take on the classic whodunnit. Whodunnit plots are placed in films of different genre's like horror, fantasy, and even comedy, but this film is the classic Clue whodunnit. The film follows the Thrombey family, mourning the suicide and death of their beloved patriarch- Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer). Harlan's birthday suicide was an open-and-shut case, that is, until Private Investigator Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) gets involved. As he "suspects foul play," this closed investigation blows right open and exposes family secrets, insidious acts, and of course, the truth.
The direction of this film is phenomenal. From the very opening scene, starting with a haunted Clue-esque Thrombey estate, with the guarding dogs that surround it, and an interior that is over-filled with antiques and outdated décor- it makes it all seem like something drawn straight out of a mystery book. It's almost surreal how well put-together the setting of this whodunnit is.
The film is also intimately shot, like every scene is a secret that the audience is in on. You're enlisted into the inner-circle, only they don't know you are- and you catch every lie, every sinister look, every story, and every fidget from the very first interview of the film. I loved it.
Then, every person commits to their role whole-heartedly. I mean, there is a masterclass team of actors/actresses here, and they do a magnificent job of selling Rian's vision. Toni Collette plays Joni Thrombey, a self-proclaimed Thrombey- who is no stranger to dismissals, side-eyes, and blunt rudeness, especially from eldest daughter Linda Drysdale (Jamie Lee Curtis.) Oh My Gosh! J.Lee- I loved her in this film. Her and Collette are two sides of the same coin. They come off wildly different in their personalities, hell they don't even get along, yet deep down they are exactly the same with their entitlement and money-hunger. And that's the point with every single one of these characters. Michael Shannon (who is brilliant in every character he plays) is Walt Thrombey, Katherine Langford is Meg Thrombey, and Don Johnson (father of the enigmatic Dakota Johnson- yes, this must be mentioned) plays Richard Drysdale. Each actor delivers strong performances, even Jaeden's Jacob Thrombey- a quiet, barely-noticed bystander to much of his family's drama, glued to his phone "probably watching tortured puppies" or something. They all round out the family and the story, and each character has their own stereotype that they fall under. But there is a larger scope than that, and that is the model the entire family falls under, which is the entitled, "self made off my father's money" American. Even when a character seems to be "understanding" and "different" than the rest, they always fall in line with their predestined personalities- showing their true ego's and shallowness. With the tone, modern time period, and plot of this film, it works out perfectly to create a story the audience (me) can't help but be invested into.
Each person absolutely delivers a great performance, but it was Daniel Craig, Chris Evans (Ransom Drysdale), and Ana De Armas (Marta) who steal the spotlight. Marta's regurgitative, soft and silently strong persona makes her the heart of this story. Her scenes with Craig are full of so much humor and intensity, and she also brings the emotional pieces of this story together with her character. With the help of Lakeith Stanfield and Noah Segan playing the two sidekick detectives, with names like Trooper Wagner, this mystery film does not lack humor at all. In fact, each moment is jam-packed with enough humor and thrill, it keeps you in a ping-pong game of differing feelings.
This brings me to the plot. I do not want to spoil any part of this plot, as much as I can avoid to. All I can say is that, like previously stated, Rian Johnson knows how to pull the lever on your smooth train ride at the very last second. Just when you think you've got this entire thing figured out, Johnson pulls the rug right from beneath you. Every new revelation serves the plot, and every turn gets you closer to the truth without you even realizing it. There are twists within the twists, lies within the lies, and donut holes within the donut holes- making this film a fully onion-layered spectacle that plays with your mind and intrigues you to the very end.
This 2-hour film is tactically paced, and I never felt bored for a second. I only have one viewing so far, but I literally have no complaints about this film. It's something worth seeing multiple times in theaters, and the first viewing experience was so much fun. I saw people around me literally sitting up in their seats in anticipation, everyone was laughing, and it was just one of the most enjoyable theater experiences of the year for me. There's something in this movie for (almost) everyone to enjoy. It's smart, it's funny, it's emotional, and so much more.
starring, Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana De Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Lieberher, Christopher Plummer, Riki Lindhome, Edi Patterson, Frank Oz, Noah Segan, and more
written and directed by, Rian Johnson
Jacindable Rating: ★★★★½
My name is Jacinda, and I am a film lover and student. Check out more of my pieces at Flipscreened!
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