A very fine paced mystery movie, Knives Out revolves around a murder mystery of a renowned crime novelist Harlan Thrombey. For those who like Agatha Christie books, this movie comes across as a very pleasant surprise. It follows the same thumb rule as her books, what is apparent is not the truth. There are always layers, one on top of another, and when one seeks to uncover the truth which is hidden deep beneath them, they peel off, slowly and steadily, to direct the path. And there are those little gems, the hidden clues. The clues have to be looked closely upon and the good old gray cells put to use, before the truth comes out. Truth, which never evades those who seek it. Truth, which remains there, glaring at you, till you actually see it. Luckily there is always either a Poirot, a Miss Maple or in this case, a Benoit Blanc who are there to unravel the truth for us.
Knives Out: Plot Details
A noted Crime Novelist Harlan Thrombey stays alone in his mansion in Massachusetts with his maid and his nurse, who attends to him regularly for his medications. One night, he invites his kith and kin over to his mansion to celebrate his 85th birthday. The next morning, his maid finds him dead in his room with this throat slit.
The police are convinced that it is suicide and are about to close down the case, when a private detective Benoit Blanc, arrives on the scene. He is paid to investigate the case by someone from the family who wishes to remain anonymous. Blanc, along with the police, interrogates all the family members and finds out that Thombrey has had tiffs and misunderstandings with each and every one of them on the night of his murder.
He finds out that Thombrey had made few changes in the will just before his birthday. He had threatened each one of his family members one after another; to cut down the allowance to his eldest daughter in law, to expose the secret affair of his son-in-law and to take away the publication rights of his books from his youngest son. Thombrey also has an agitated fight with his favorite grandson Ransom, to whom he openly declares that the will is changed and none of his fortunes will be bequeathed to him.
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What Blanc does not know is that Thombrey’s nurse Marta had accidentally injected him with an overdose of Morphine after the party which she later realizes after seeing the label on the vial. The antidote, for some reason, had mysteriously disappeared, thus forcing him into an almost immediate death. In order to protect Marta, Thombrey creates one last fictional crime scene that night before his death. He gives her a set of instructions to follow, to create a false alibi for her at the time of the murder. He then asks her to escape through the window and then slits his own throat.
Marta has a habit of vomiting when she does not speak the truth. When Blanc interrogates her, she gives him vague answers to conceal the truth and manages not to get caught. Blanc for some reason, trusts her and asks her to be on his side when he does the investigation. But at every step, Marta tries to destroy the slightest evidence discovered to cover her guilt. Blanc hits a hard stop and is unable to proceed ahead.
To make matters more complicated, Thombrey leaves all his fortune and his mansion to Marta, which turns all the family against her. Ransom rescues her from them and takes her to a safer place.
Meanwhile, all the evidence for the murder keep getting destroyed including the toxicology reports of Mr. Thombrey. Blanc pursues both Ransom and Marta, but suspicions deepen against Marta because of her escapade.
Is Marta the actual culprit or just a pawn being played by a master player? Now it is all left to Benoit Blanc to fit the pieces of the puzzle together.
Characters And Narration Style
With an excellent plot, tight screenplay and strong ensemble of characters, the movie keeps the audience on the edge of their seats till the very end. Daniel Craig sinks into the skin of the Southern drawl detective, Benoit Blanc very well. He plays it so deftly that he can give a tough competition to Hercule Poirot if the makers ever decide to make him a legendary American detective figure. Chris Evans as Ransom is immaculate, as a deserted, carefree grandson who is determined to make things work his way. The background score is mysterious, and as the camera moves from one scene to another, our minds race to try to fit in the pieces together. I do have one qualm about the movie that the star cast should have been more evenly distributed. Not to give away the plot, but because of the star cast, it becomes easier for the audience to guess the culprit midway in the movie.
This is one of those classic movies which grows on the audience and the memories linger in their head days after one finishes the movie. As I said earlier, it reminded me of David Suchet’s Poirot series. We wish to see more such movies on the silver screen. I rate Knives Out 9/10.
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The World of Movies Rating 09/10
Movie Title: Knives Out
Directed & Written by: Rian Johnson
Main Cast: Daniel Craig as Benoit Blanc, Chris Evans as Hugh Ransom Drysdale, Ana de Armas as Marta Cabrera, Jamie Lee Curtis as Linda Drysdale, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Detective Hardrock (voice cameo)
Year of Release: 2019
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Crime, Mystery
Country of Origin: United States of America
Running Time: 131 minutes
Production Company: Lionsgate, Media Rights Capital (MRC), T-Street
Distributed by: Lionsgate, Phars Film
Image Source: Screenshots taken from the movie.
Reviewed: Anantha Alagappan