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Monday, July 26, 2021

    Knives Out, She Wrote

    Ben Nietzel
    Ben Nietzel works as the principal of Saints Mary and Mathias Catholic School. He also enjoys coaching Muskie football and reviewing movies.

    Muscatine Living

    Knives Out is the latest offering from writer/director Rian Johnson. When a multi-millionaire mystery author, Harlon Thrombey, turns up dead from apparent suicide, investigators quickly realize that something is afoot. 

    Pro – Cast 

    The cast of Knives Out is absolutely stacked. Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Don Johnson, and Chris Evans are all excellent as various characters of the Thrombey family. Each is given time to shine and plenty to work with. Daniel Craig is great as investigator Benoit Blanc, replete with southern accent and snappy attire. Craig clearly has the funniest role and seems to relish the opportunity in each scene. Christopher Plummer is fantastic as the eccentric yet wise dearly departed, Harlon Thrombey, who shows up throughout the film by way of flashback. 

    The real show stealer though is Ana de Armas, who plays Thrombey’s caring nurse. Overwhelmed by events and the crazy Thrombey family, de Armas gets to take her character, Marta Cabrerea, through almost every emotion imaginable. She is really good in a role that is burdened with carrying the plot forward. Johnson has a great cast to work with, and the film does an excellent job of leveraging all of those assets throughout. 

    Pro – Panache

     Johnson grew up loving the murder-mystery genre, and his affection shows. Knives Out is a movie stuffed full of style and flair. From the start, it’s clear that Johnson has a very specific vision and tone for this film, and that focus helps to create an enjoyable experience for the audience. Tight character shots, a methodical pace, and meticulously crafted scenes and locations make Knives Out enjoyable to experience. So much love and detail are put into this film, a forty-five-minute short exploring the belongings of the Thrombey manor house would be compelling. 

    Con – No Agatha Christie

    Knives Out is clever, but probably not in the way the audience is expecting. It’s not a true whodunit in the strictest sense. The matter of what has happened isn’t left in suspense too long, but instead, the movie shifts from whodunit into a thriller of sorts. While this certainly seems to be intentional, it can be a bit off-putting for those with different expectations. It’s certainly engrossing and suspenseful, but don’t expect to be trying to put together clues to crack the case before the illustrious Benoit Blanc. 

     Instead, prepare for a film where you find yourself rooting for the person in the biggest heap of trouble and hoping they can find a way out of it. Johnson also throws in a healthy dose of social commentary and markers, letting the audience know this film takes place in 2019. It has to be said that both these choices are handled with a pretty deft hand and serve to enhance the film rather than distract from it. You might go to Knives Out for the mystery, but you’ll need to enjoy it for the suspense. 

    Knives Out is a fun film. It’s clearly a passion project, and that translates into a well-made and enjoyable film. The cast is loaded with big names who don’t disappoint. With the right expectations, Knives Out will make for a very enjoyable night at the movies. Head over to the Fridley Palms Theatre and check this one out while you still can!

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