Knives Out

Knives Out ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Knives Out was directed and written by Rian Johnson; and in my opinion, after this latest rewatch, Knives Out is the best Hollywood movie of the century (2000-Present). What do I mean by Hollywood movie since that is a very vague and hard to pin down term? 

Note: Spoilers ahead.

I'd say a Hollywood movie is one that both perpetuates the tropes of a genre and is able to be commercially successful as well as be critically successful. Along with this, it has a very strong, confident theme as well as political messages, and it manages to be entertaining all the while. The messages are never overbearing, and the movie never explicitly states one side is wrong. 

One thing that sets Knives Out apart from the rest of Hollywood movies is Rian Johnson's incredible direction. Each viewing has left me exhilarated afterward even though I knew what was coming. It's hard enough to get people invested enough so they watch your movie once, let alone around 4-5 times in my case. Another testament to Johnson's direction is the use of Chekhov's gun as well as object repetition throughout frames without telling the audience to focus on something. 

Chekhov's gun, to put it simply, is a rule of writing that states that (this is putting it generally) if you show the viewer a shotgun as it hangs on a wall in a house during a movie/novel's third act, then it must come back into play later on in the story. If it doesn't come back, then the viewer will simply be left with a meaningless detail. 

Knives Out has two examples of Chekhov's gun that I can pinpoint off the top of my head. One being at the very beginning where Elliot, Wagner, and Blanc are interviewing prominent members of the Thrombey family. We see that Elliot and Wagner are recording each of the sessions. And more importantly, Johnson shows us this by deliberately placing the phone on a table as it records. This comes back later in the third act(which is when Chekhov's gun is supposed to go off). You know what I'm talking about. The bigger example of Chekhov's gun was Marta's throw up reflex. You know what I'm referencing. I find this continuity so impressive because there are a lot of movies that have twists, just like Knives Out did, but they never maintain the Chekhov's gun principled so well and subtly as Knives Out did. 

Knives Out could've been ruined if the twists didn't make sense. But something very impressive is that if you unpack the story in such a way that it's laid out from the end all the way back to the beginning, the story has an unshakable sense of verisimilitude. Everything falls into place just as it was supposed to, and there were no misplaced puzzle pieces. The web seems tangled as you see the mobie progress for the first time, yet afterward it makes complete sense. The rules of the world are never broken in order to progress the plot forward. Each decision is realistic for the world, and I think Johnson did a much better job maintaining verisimilitude in this world than in The Last Jedi. 

I could've gushed about the politics in this film, the class warfare that was everywhere in 2019, but I wanted to pinpoint a few ideas that made Knives Out so special to me. I notice more details and subtle direction techniques every time I watch this film. I notice subtle things about the acting that makes me adore the cast EVEN MORE. Everything in Knives Out lines up perfectly in my opinion. This is the perfect Hollywood movie. I bumped it to my favorite of 2019. And not only that, it has earned a higher position in my favorite films list.

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