Sunday, June 21, 2020

REVIEW: Knives Out (live action movie)

Knives Out
is a traditional murder mystery, in the vein of Agatha Christie except with vomit.

The basic story: The police, with the assistance of a famous private detective working for an anonymous employer, are investigating the death of Harlan Thrombey, a famous mystery writer. Harlan's death appears to be a clear case of suicide. After his birthday party, he played a game of Go with his caretaker, Marta Cabrera, and then, after she left, laid down and slit his own throat.

However, something doesn't quite add up. Why was a famous detective like Benoit Blanc hired to look into Harlan's death? On the day of his birthday, Harlan cut his financial ties to several members of his family. If he was actually murdered, there are quite a few potential suspects. And Marta, who can't lie without needing to throw up, knows more about what happened that night than she's saying.

I hadn't realized until yesterday that this had been added to the Amazon Prime catalog. I first watched it while it was in theaters and loved it, despite disliking the on-screen vomiting (even the second time around, I still couldn't watch that last scene without feeling a little sympathy nausea). It was just as good the second time around.

In the first part of the movie, viewers are introduced to all the members of the dysfunctional Thrombey family, as well as their potential motives for killing Harlan. They're a delightfully horrible and privileged bunch, and none of them take well to being cut off from Harlan's money. The movie touches on politics a bit - part of the family is Republican, part of it is Democrat, and both sides tend to use Marta to illustrate the rightness of their political stances. Marta's mother, meanwhile, is undocumented, something only a couple members of the Thrombey family know.

After Harlan's death, everyone in the Thrombey family keeps referring to Marta as being "like family," despite the fact that she wasn't invited to Harlan's funeral. The "like family" fiction is stripped away in an instant later on in the movie, forcing Marta to decide who she can really trust and how much.

I absolutely loved Ana de Armas as Marta, and I appreciated that it was her kindness, honesty, and goodness that helped her most in the end. The movie was maybe overly obvious about that fact, but I didn't mind.

When I first watched this, the one thing I suspected I'd have the most trouble with was Daniel Craig as Benoit Blanc. Specifically his accent, which one of the characters even compares to Foghorn Leghorn. It wasn't as hard to get used to as I'd though it would be, and it definitely wasn't an issue during my second viewing. It was as fun to watch him in action as it was to watch Marta, although I was even more amazed, the second time around, with some of the things he allowed to happen considering one detail he'd noticed.

I still don't know that I want to own this, but it was definitely worth watching a couple times, once for the mystery and another time to see how all the pieces came together.

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