Review: Knives Out Is an Agatha Christie Fan’s Dream
4 out of 5 cozy cable-knit sweaters
**Slight spoilers for Rian Johnson’s Knives Out but I won’t tell you who did it**
When it comes to a classic “whodunit”, there is no better modern representation than Knives Out. A Rian Johnson festival hit, the movie focuses on the Thormbey family. Harlan (Christopher Plummer) is the patriarch of the family and a mystery writer à la the stories that you’d find in an Agatha Christie anthology. So when he seemingly died by suicide, there was one big problem: a mysterious paycheck sent to a Detective Benoit Blanc to investigate that suicide.
From there, it is a twisting narrative of learning the truth of Harlan’s death while discovering less than favorable stories about his family and, through it all, as with all the best mysteries, you’ll think you have it all figured out only to be reminded yet again that you know nothing going on. Harlan dies on the night of his birthday party (shout out to my fellow November 8th Scorpio, Harlan Thormbey) and as the story on ravels, we discover that each member of the family had a motive.
Blanc asks Harlan’s caretaker, Marta (Ana de Armas) to help him solve the murder and she begins to unravel the story surrounding Harlan’s decision to die. Ransom Drysdale (Chris Evans) is Harlan’s grandson, the son of Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Richard (Don Johnson). He had a fight with Harlan at the party but hasn’t been back and didn’t even go to the funeral. Linda seemingly doesn’t have a motive but her husband Richard also had words with Harlan early that day and thus the pattern began. Everyone had their moments with their patriarch and each of them can therefore be considered a suspect.
Joni (Toni Collette) channels her inner Gwyneth Paltrow with her own website where she’s all about beauty and fulfillment, but her influencer life isn’t enough to keep her and her daughter afloat. Though she was married to Harlan’s son, she isn’t a member of his family apart from having his granddaughter and thus her status as a Thormbey is threatened. Walt (Michael Shannon) works for Harlan’s publishing company but Harlan thinks there is so much more Walt can be doing and tries to take it away from him. Plus, this is all in the midst of Harlan cutting off Ransom and threatening to expose a secret of Richard’s. So really, it is anyone’s ball game.
Every time you think that someone had the motive to kill, a part of the story is revealed to show that they were nowhere near Harlan at the time of his death. So, the real question throughout the whole movie is … who really had the guts and the wits and the means to pull this entire thing off? Or better yet, who paid for Blanc to come investigate?
My favorite bit was that the house was seemingly the inspiration for all of Harlan’s stories. Trooper Wagner (Noah Segan) is a superfan of Harlan’s novels, commenting on them and pointing out what was in each story. I only wish those stories had more of a connection to the movie’s plot itself. There’s a part of me that wanted this entire mystery, the story of Harlan’s death, to be the next novel from him. Sure, he was very much dead, but it would have been nice if that bit of his storyline could have tied into the end.
Knives Out delighted me to no end and kept me thinking the entire time. With each new twist, I thought I knew who did it and what was going on but then I was shown I couldn’t trust a single person and that’s the sign of a brilliant mystery.
All I need now is for a Knives Out inspired sweater line because there were some looks that I need to add into my wardrobe now. Mainly all of Ransom’s outfits and Meg’s (Katherine Langford) fun “going out” look.
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