Film: Knives Out
Cast: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Christopher Plummer, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette, Don Johnson, Ana de Armas, Katherine Langford, LaKeith Stanfield
Director: Rian Johnson
Cleverly plotted with twists galore, Rian Johnson’s comedic whodunnit pays homage to Agatha Christie, best selling author of 66 murder mysteries. There’s even a scene where a minor character watches Angela Lansbury in the role of Miss Marple. Naturally, there are the classic tropes of the genre: lies and secrets, multiple suspects (from a dysfunctional family and their staff essayed by a talented star ensemble cast) who have a motive to kill and then, there is the detective who unravels the truth about the apparent suicide of wealthy crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) just after his 85th birthday party.
There’s a trio of detectives actually. Remember, Ms Christie created the vain eccentric Belgian Hercule Poirot who helped Scotland Yard whereas Knives Out sleuths also bring to mind Sherlock Holmes, Dr Watson and the cops who rope in the duo as consultants. Detective Benoit (Daniel Craig) Blanc though prefers a cigar to a pipe and flaunts a decidedly Southern drawl which invites some nasty put-downs from the villain.
Hence, a most apt choice of title. But the film goes beyond the condescending attitude of the haves to those they regard as their social inferiors. For all their protestations that the nurse Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas) is “part of the family”, the Thrombeys don’t even know her country of origin, except that she is a Latina.
Knives Out addresses contemporary social issues like undocumented migrants and the assertion that ‘America is for Americans’. But why just America? Exclusionary politics is at work closer home. The final shot is a class act if further proof were needed that Knives Out is a cautionary tale: The meek shall inherit the earth.