Review: Knives Out (2019)

Why do I ALWAYS want to move into houses where murders have occurred?

As we approach the end of the year, it’s only natural for me to reflect on what I think the best movie of 2019 was. From Us (2019), to Booksmart (2019), to Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019), some of the most memorable movies of the year were stunning works based on original screenplays. By the way, you can check out my reviews for those movies here, here and here. Until recently, I would have said that any of those three movies, or one of the several other amazing original works I’ve seen this year, easily would have taken the top spot. However, after seeing Knives Out (2019), my pick for the best movie of 2019 is as easy to determine as the identity of the villain in a Scooby-Doo cartoon. From beginning to end, I was in complete awe of the brilliance of Knives Out.

Screen Shot 2019-12-11 at 9.30.30 PM
Credit: imdb.com / Lionsgate

Written and directed by Rian Johnson, Knives Out follows the Thrombey family, a wealthy and dysfunctional group who are brought together after the unexpected death of the family patriarch. Confined to the family mansion and constantly at each other’s throats, the Thrombeys are investigated by world-class detective, Benoit Blanc. Soon each family member’s motivation for murder is brought to light as the web of mystery around them becomes more and more tangled.

I love a great murder mystery. Even better, I love a great murder mystery that doubles as a black comedy. The perfect example of such a movie is Clue (1985), one of my Top 10 favourite movies. Sidenote, there are rumours that Clue is going to be rebooted and my brain can’t even begin to fathom just how terrible an idea that is. Fatigue for reboots aside, a new version really isn’t needed because Knives Out is already like the 2010s equivalent of Clue. Like the cult classic, Knives Out masterfully pairs uproarious hilarity, a genuinely intriguing mystery, and a perfect cast playing flawlessly with each other to create a home run of a movie. Even in the first few minutes, I instantly fell in love with and became obsessed with this movie. I mean, if you open your movie on a spooky mansion shrouded in fog while accompanied by creepy violin music, I’m sold! As if the movie’s enticing opening weren’t enough to convince me that that I was about to watch a fantastic murder mystery, the next two hours proved it in spades.

Congratulations to Johnson for being the sole writer on Knives Out. Deliciously dastardly and wonderfully wry, this is a true love letter to the murder mystery genre. Dark comedies don’t get much better than this. The success lies mostly in Johnson’s phenomenal script. Fast-paced, brimming with wit and ferociously funny, Johnson’s script is a breath of fresh air in a time when the majority of movies being made are little more than fill-in-the-blanks. It successfully blends comedy and mystique, while always managing to be sharp and fresh. Not to mention the exciting twists and turns!

Though Knives Out is certainly original, in both design and writing, you can see the influence of works by Wes Anderson and Agatha Christie. Albeit both are utilized with a modern flair. Johnson indulges in all the tropes and markings of the genre, creating a modern mystery that is sure to delight and thrill anyone who has the pleasure of tagging along for this spellbinding adventure. Dripping with intrigue, this movie doesn’t just demand your attention. It commands it. I could not stop watching this movie. If you think you’re getting up to go to the bathroom, think again.

The phenomenal script is matched only by the impressive cast. Wow, is this cast amazing: It includes Jamie Lee Curtis, Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Toni Collette and Christopher Plummer just to name a few! They all shine so brightly. Johnson knew exactly when he was doing when he cast this masterpiece of a movie because each actor is tailor-made for the role they play. Veteran stars like Curtis and Collette entertain and amaze in roles like “cold-hearted mogul” and “ditzy lifestyle guru” respectively, giving performances that are exactly what murder mystery fans are yearning for. I adore Curtis and Collette is an absolute treasure.

As the irresponsible nephew Ransom, Evans delivers a performance that is so deliciously dramatic it’ll completely change how you see the actor. This is perhaps Evans’ finest hour on screen. Every actor in this collection of characters knows exactly what type of movie they’re in, working together in a way that most casts aspire to, but rarely achieve. Of course, the true stars of Knives Out are Craig as Detective Blanc and newcomer Ana de Armas as timid caregiver Marta, respectively. These two anchor the movie with their gripping and masterful performances, managing to effortlessly blend comedy and drama into every scene they’re in. Craig performs like he’s in a theatrical play, giving such a delightfully energetic performance that he had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. As for de Armas, she’s a true star on the rise and I’ll be eagerly looking forward to whatever project she pursues next.

Everyone should see Knives Out. Like all good mysteries, half of the enjoyment comes from trying to solve the case for yourself. I’ll admit, multiple times I thought I had solved the mystery myself, only to be blown away by the revelations that were yet to come. Knives Out is without a doubt one of the must-see movies of 2019. I dare you to try and resist succumbing to the sensational tale of crime and comedy that this director and cast have crafted. Now, just how many accolades will Knives Out garner this awards season? Ah, that’s the true mystery.

Will you see Knives Out? What are your favourite murder mysteries?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

 

 

 

 

 

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