Knives Out

Knives Out ★★★★½

Remains persistent in its presentation of tried and true whodunnit tropes, only turned a little left of center. It's those little tweaks- taking the familiar and injecting it with new life and a fresh perspective- that makes the film feel so lively. Each character, no matter their part big or small, is fully formed. These people clearly exist outside of the story being told, no small feat considering they are in large part archetypes imbued with a rigorous sense of modernity.

Again what makes the film great is not its rejection of the Murder on the Orient Express/Clue/Gosford Park tropes and stylings, but rather its understanding of how to utilize them to sustain a full yet fun narrative. More pastiche than carbon copy, yet making a mark of its own. A substantial part of that is thanks to De Armas, who is so incredibly warm and earnest that it almost slices through the glacial tension of this prickly family. She is the humanity the story needs, otherwise risking devolving into something much too glossy to really sink your teeth into.

If this film were a calzone, the zippy banter and energetic narrative construction (which deserves more than a passing mention, that stuff is what makes it really fun to watch) would be the tasty dough holding inside of it the biting commentary inside of it. The Thrombey's are at first seemingly all so dissimilar: the hyper-liberal lifestyle guru, the spoiled ne'er-do-well living on the fringes of the family, the ambitious and respectable entrepreneur, the ultra right-wing internet addicted teen. Yet when the chips are down and their fortunes are threatened they all revert to desperation of wealth that serves as the undeniable connective tissue of the entire family. How quickly the privileged forget their projected values when things become potentially tumultuous to themselves.

Daniel Craig is the total wild card here, bringing back the simultaneously inexplicable yet delightful accent choice he made back when making Logan Lucky. He appears a simple man, but unveils layers of intellect as the story progresses (I do wish Lakeith got to play off him more, loved their dynamic). A terrific introduction and conclusion of a character that could easily become silly. A borderline genius comedic performance too; the donut joke is the hardest I've laughed in a movie in a very long time.

In a film stuffed with incredible imagery (the journey of the baseball, the interview seat surrounded by knives, the scene in the study), the enduring one will remain that wide shot of the porch near the very end that completes the journey of where these people started to where they ended up at. The Howdunnit is so much more interesting than the Whodunnit

Paul liked this review