SPOILERS FOR A MOVIE STILL IN THEATERS
BUT I WON’T REVEAL THE ENDING
With this movie I have now seen all 5 of Mr. Rian Johnson’s full-length movies (Brick, The Brothers Bloom, Looper, Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi, and of course this) and can definitively say he’s a good writer/director, getting better with time.
FIGHT ME, INTERNET!
Knives Out is a wonderful movie that keeps the audience on their toes. A whodunit murder mystery that takes a sharp turn around the halfway point when the movie says, “Actually, it was an accident staged to look like a suicide. What now?” The rest of the movie is now called into question, because we have our answer. What else is there?
Except of course there’s more. In addition to Marta the nurse trying to hide her guilt/involvement from detective Benoit Blanc, there are a few elements to the story that don’t add up. Not to pat myself on the back too much, but throughout the movie I held onto some of those dependencies in the “story as we know it,” and sure enough they turned out to be important clues at the end. Good job, me!
The “what now?” aspect of the movie reminds me of Johnson’s work on The Last Jedi. Controversial opinion, but I enjoyed that movie, in part because it was different. JJ Abrams’ signature move is “mystery boxes,” story elements he specifically holds back revealing so that the mystery propels the story forward. And I’m not a fan of that, in part because I’m not so sure he knows how to properly make the payoff worth it.
Anyway, Johnson’s Star Wars movie did away with those mystery boxes pretty quickly. Who are Rey’s parents? Nobody. What’s the deal with Snoke? Doesn’t matter, he’s dead. And from there the story was more “what now?” How do our heroes handle the situation they are in? I found that more compelling than being teased with mysteries. And Knives Out has something similar to that. Sure, there’s the overarching mystery because we the audience know there’s more to it (in part because we know there’s an hour left), but explaining the “truth” of the case so early puts the audience in an unfamiliar space, especially for a murder mystery: if we know how it happened, what now?
Anyway, it’s a good movie, a damn good mystery, and I highly recommend it. Maybe not a contender for “best movie of 2019,” but definitely one of the best.
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