London Film Festival 2019: Knives Out

Rating: ★★★★★

Due to its ensemble cast, gorgeous aesthetics and whodunit storyline, it’s safe to say that I had high expectations for Knives Out.

I’m pleased to report that it surpassed each and every one of them.

Rian Johnson’s tale of mystery follows the death of renowned crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), which took place after his 85th birthday. Presumed to be a murder, his eccentric and very large family are soon under investigation by Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) and his team.

Straight away, Daniel Craig steals the show with his hilarious performance of Detective Blanc. From his deep Southern American drawl to his quirky mannerisms, this is so far removed from what you’d expect from a Craig performance. I’ve never seen him have this much fun in a role before.

He’s tasked with getting to the bottom of what happened, which involves a delightful series of interviews in which the family are sitting in front of several display knives, just one of the many eccentricities of the Thrombey manor house. In terms of set design it’s just glorious to look at, and even one of the characters compares it to a Cluedo board.

Even the characters themselves are quirky enough to be boxed up inside the classic board game, and could give the likes of Miss Scarlet and Colonel Mustard a run for their money.

Characters include Thrombey’s daughter and real estate mogul Linda Drysdale (Jamie Lee Curtis), her husband Richard (Don Johnson), and outcast trust fund son Ransom (Chris Evans), who form quite the dysfunctional family even when you remove them from the bigger picture.

Then there’s the rather insufferable, yet hugely entertaining, lifestyle guru Joni Thrombey (Toni Collette) and her daughter and social activist Meg (Katherine Langford). These two characters are parodies of popular blogging culture and ‘social justice warriors’, and they’re hilarious.

Each character has been wonderfully crafted by Rian Johnson, who both wrote and directed Knives Out. They’re essentially caricatures, but the result of this is a thoroughly entertaining cinema experience. What a brilliant use of such a talented cast.

The only seemingly normal person wrapped up in all this is caretaker Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas), who acted as both a friend and nurse to Harlan prior to his death. Even against a backdrop of such bold characters, de Armas’ performance shines just as brightly.

Mysteries are hard to get right, and being able to predict the ending is a bragging right for many cinephiles. Well unfortunately, this script absolutely floored me with how fantastic it was, and I was unable to predict anything that went down. Johnson has serious talent when it comes to crafting a murder-mystery.

Don’t even get me started on how gorgeous the wardrobe in this film is either. If anyone knows where I can get Jamie Lee Curtis’ striking red suit, you need to tell me immediately.

Watching Knives Out was the most fun I’ve had in the cinema this year, perhaps ever. I was fully engrossed from start to finish, and walked out with the biggest smile on my face.

If you see one film this autumn, make it this one. You won’t regret it.

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