Knives Out, directed by Rian Johnson, has been described as the modern “whodunit.” If you are at all familiar with old-timey mystery novels, you might recognize some of this: Popular crime novelist, Harlan Thrombey, invites his family to his manor to celebrate his 85th birthday. However, the festivities come to a crashing halt when he is found by the housekeeper, Fran, dead, supposedly having slit his own throat. Benoit Blanc, a private detective, is hired by an anonymous party to investigate the scene. We explore the world with Blanc as he learns how Harlan had alienated much of his family. This included threatening to expose his son-in-law’s affair, cut off his thieving daughter-in-law, fire his youngest son from his publishing company, and cut his grandson out of his will. Blanc eventually teams up with the suspicious but knowledgeable nurse, Marta Cabrera. We soon learn from the family lawyer that Harlan has left everything to Marta, causing some hostility from the family and encouraging her attempted escape. This heartfelt and fascinatingly familiar, yet unique movie received an astounding response from movie fans across the board.
This movie was obviously a nod to all of those classic murder mystery lovers. This combined with incredible writing, character development, and an excellent cast, many are claiming it to be the best movie of the year. With a whopping 8.1/10 stars from IMDB, an 82% from Metacritic, and a 97% from Rotten Tomatoes, this movie received stellar reviews. The plot was clever, yet plausible. Thrilling deception from every character leaves the audience on the edge of their seats throughout. The tasteful humor is a perfect balance to the overall tense atmosphere. However, even a good script can be sabotaged by a lack-luster cast, so the stunning performances by the actors is what really pushed this film into the next level.
The common favorites were Daniel Craig playing Blanc and Ana de Armas as Marta, but the whole cast really pulled the story together.
With all the positive hype, you’ll never find a movie without its criticism. There are many negative comments regarding the supposed liberal politics surrounding immigration. There is discussion of Marta’s mother being an illegal immigrant, and many found it to be too pointed and even inaccurate to current politics. There are also complaints of the underuse of many in the cast and that the second tier characters didn’t have enough depth or development. However, the most common critique is, interestingly enough, not that it was a bad movie, just that it wasn’t a great one. Many say the hype was too high so when the movie actually hit theaters, it didn’t meet the given expectations.