Deep in the south lies a benevolent creature that has watched us for some time. Waiting for it’s chance to come out of the woodwork and reveal itself to us. Would we love it or hate it? Is this creature something we would even understand? Until now, we had never seen it, but now we have and we like it. Or at least I do. The creature is Daniel Craig’s southern accent and how all of us have gone this long without him using it in a movie is pure criminal. We’ll talk about that and more in my review of Knives Out.
Characters I Liked
Knives Out is a mystery, and mysteries have relied upon a twisting plot and their characters. The detectives that entice us with their knowledge and observational skills. The possible murderers and their potential motives. Knives Out does not lack any of these tropes of the genre. A detective that enamors us, especially with that beautiful accent. A family that is so diverse and at odds with one another that we almost view them as caricatures rather than real people. A somewhat innocent caregiver with all the access to commit the murder.
First, we’ll start with our good friend, Mr. Craig. As talked about before, we get to hear his beautiful southern accent. We all know of a southern accent and a lot of us claim to be able to do one, but that simply isn’t true. But this British-based actor showed us all up. Even those living in the south. Apart from his accent, the character is incredibly well thought out and played expertly. Benoit Blanc is the catalyst of the plot of Knives Out. He moves us forward from a suicide into the murder investigation and is at the center of each plot point as it happens. Craig brings the right amount of humor and wit to this character to immediately feel for him, yet, know he has it all under control.
His foil and an even bigger mover and shaker of the story is Marta Cabrera, as played by Ana De Armas. She is shy, unassuming, and the best friend to the deceased in this movie. Her biggest asset to the story and one that helps us to endear to her and give us something to latch onto, is her lack of telling a lie. Immediately we know we can trust her, because if she lies, she throws up. Quite disgustingly so, at times. De Armas brings a great energy to this otherwise background character in almost every other story. She is different from every character only in that she is so completely normal and unassuming.
The family we follow, the Thrombeys, are then the foil to Marta. They each have one very clear motive and they stick to it, all the way down to their wardrobe. You could easily see a caricature of each of these characters adorning any wall of those drawers that line street fairs. They all represent what greed can do to a person and they are directed so beautifully. There is a point in the movie where a character gets off the phone and looks at the family and the visual is absolutely stunning.
The Story of Knives Out
Mysteries have been a dying art form ever since their golden age of Film Noirs back in the 50s and 60s. Movies like the Maltese Falcon or the Big Sleep (or any Bogart movie, really) tore up the box offices. Lately, they have not been doing so well. The twentieth (about) remake of Murder on the Orient Express flopped terribly. A large part of the reason why these movies have been doing poorly is the lack of new stories being told. We all know a murder happened and we all know that twists and turns are going to happen, but we all want to guess who did it beforehand. That’s the old and boring formula we have come to know and love, but not really.
Spoiler alert. Knives Out takes a stab at these tropes and subverts them. We all get to meet the characters at the beginning and we know that a murder has happened. Pretty standard so far. We take guesses at who did the murder, then we move forward. Where Knives Out then takes us on a ride is it gives us a character who cannot lie and it shows us exactly how she accidentally killed the elder Thrombey. Boom, we’re now out of it, we are no longer wondering who did it.
I won’t give away the rest, but the twists and turns taken in this mystery show us that there is still life in this overused genre. We see how the genre helped to fuel the story. Rian Johnson took the tropes that we have all come to know and totally flipped them up on their head. The story here thrives because of its genre, rather than feeling trapped in the tropes. This is what makes it such a good movie.
I love movies for the feelings they give me, but hardly ever do I get surprised at movies anymore. When paying attention, it can be relatively easy to see where a plot is going for a movie and it’s really hard to get a plot out there without the audience being a few steps ahead of you. Knives Out did just that. I felt surprised at how well the plot weaved the thread so that I wasn’t looking in the right spots and completely guessed incorrectly at the plot.
I also felt a determination to give my characters the backstory and caricaturization that Rian gave to the family. Each character had their own story and each story was very well thought out, but even more than that, the family as a whole was very well thought out. I also realized the importance of set design from the house the Thrombeys came in. The knife statue was amazingly well done and really added to the movie in the best way.
The creature that is Craig’s southern accent has descended back to sleep, but I hope to see it again. Maybe as a James Bond that came from Mississippi. Or as a character in another movie. Knives Out was a spectacularly well done mystery that showed us the genre is not dead, despite how many Murder on the Orient Express remakes come out (Please just stop). I also loved the feelings of surprise and pure fun I had dealing with the caricatures that made up the family and the detective. Overall, a very well done and well thought out story. I would recommend you go see this, if you haven’t already.