Knives Out

Knives Out ★★★½

My first cinema visit of 2020.

“Knives Out” is a fresh and original take on the whodunnit genre and as a fan of the classic Agatha Christie/Sherlock Holmes stories, I really enjoyed the premise, setting, style, and references of this film. You can clearly see that Rian Johnson loves the genre and had fun playing around with it. It´s also nice to watch a whodunnit on the big screen, since this doesn´t happen often anymore.

Still, I´m not totally over the moon. Rian Johnson loves to subvert expectations and just like with “The Last Jedi”, I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I find the unique and innovative story approach and structure fascinating and engaging but on the other hand, I was quite disappointed that the mystery of Harlan´s death was revealed so early in the film. Yes, this gives the movie a fresh dynamic, but guessing who the murderer is and how he/she did it is a huge part of the fun for me (I mean, the whole subgenre is called “whodunnit”). Of course, there is a twist concerning the death, but to be honest, its quite predictable and the whole conclusion to the murder mystery is rather underwhelming. There are also several “side mysteries”, but I didn´t find them very interesting.

Nevertheless, “Knives Out” is fun, entertaining, and well-crafted. It has stylish production design, fantastic editing, great cinematography, and a fitting score. It is charming and amusing from beginning to end and has several laugh out loud moments, my favorite being the donut monologue. Still, calling it the most fun and enjoyable movie of the year goes a bit too far for me, since not every joke lands and there are also some dragging parts. The film also features not so subtle political commentary on immigration, racism, internet trolls, wealth, and entitlement. This didn´t bother me but I also didn´t find it very insightful.

The biggest highlights of the film are clearly the characters and performances. They made the movie for me and I just wanted to spend more time with these quirky people. The standouts are Daniel Craig and Ana de Armas. I have never seen Craig have so much fun with a role before. His charisma, mannerisms, and delivery are hilarious and on point and the eccentric detective Benoit Blanc is a cool and memorable character I would love to see more of. And how could I not love a movie that provides me with so many closeups of Ana de Armas´ beautiful face. The loveable cutie is heart and soul of the film and shows some serious acting skills. I have loved her since “Blade Runner 2049” and I would be glad if “Knives Out” is her breakthrough moment. She deserves it (and I deserve to see more movies with her). The members of the dysfunctional Thrombey family are also all brilliantly casted and they have a very entertaining dynamic. Due to time reasons, not all of them get equal opportunities to shine, but especially Chris Evans (in an anti-Steve Rogers role) and Toni Colette (who is always great) are able to leave their mark.

To conclude, “Knives Out” is a fun, stylish, and innovative crime mystery comedy that lives from its fascinating and entertaining characters. The mystery aspect underwhelmed me a bit, but I had a great time in the theater, nonetheless.

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