Knives Out is a traditional murder mystery in many ways. The premise is classic: an eccentric old millionaire found dead in an apparent suicide, a large cast of warring family members each hiding a secret, and a mysterious detective with a ridiculous name (if you thought Hercule Poirot had it rough, imagine going through school with a name like Benoit Blanc).
Daniel Craig’s Blanc is allegedly the main character, though it seems pretty clear that he and Chris Evans receive top billing because of their star power, rather than their importance to the plot. In fact, those wanting to watch because they are suffering from Captain America withdrawal after Endgame may well be disappointed, as Evans barely appears in the film until after the murder mystery has been solved. Instead, the role of star character belongs to newcomer Ana de Armas, who plays nurse Marta Carbrera. De Armas makes good use of her extensive screen time, delivering a nuanced portrayal of a kind-hearted yet crafty young woman fighting to protect what she loves.
Ana de Armas is not the only one giving a stellar performance: the all-star cast also includes Christopher Plummer, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Frank Oz, and It’s Jaeden Martell. Together, they offer a convincing and cathartic representation of a divided family forced to work together in their time of need.
The plot of the film itself is actually rather basic, and in places even predictable – with the exception of a bizarre car chase around two thirds of the way through – but it’s still fun to watch. For fans of murder mysteries, the answers will be obvious: just look to the person you least expect. Knives Out spices this up a bit by having not one, but two interrelated mysteries. The film is further complicated by having us take the side of the killer for a good chunk of the movie, getting the audience to root for them as they frantically try to cover their tracks.
Overall, the film is very satisfying and extremely funny, with the exception of the running gag (pun intended) of having Marta throw up every time she tells a lie. The jokes are good, the cast is amazing, and the emotional moments are genuinely moving. Every piece of the story fits together like a jigsaw puzzle, with each piece of information coming back at some point, even if some of the call-backs are a little bit heavy-handed (Chekhov’s donut of knives, anyone?). Nevertheless, the film is a masterpiece and well worth seeing, even by those who aren’t fans of the murder mystery genre. Don’t be put of by Daniel Craig’s terrible accent – it gets easier to listen to as you go through.
Feature Image by Lionsgate Films