Knives Out (2019) – A Rian Johnson Whodunit

★★★★

Whodunit always becomes a unique approach. We always called a thriller or mystery whodunit were you guessing the mystery of who the real culprit is. But, in Rian Johnson’s new movie called “Knives Out”, it’s not just about who the real actors are. It’s a commentary about immigrant phobias with millennial children’s comedy expertise. We usually call it the Social Justice Warrior humor. However, that’s not just Johnson’s sense of humor. But, that’s how Johnson made the main ingredient in the murder mystery menu the theme itself. It’s about how all of these unique characters in this film react with the protagonist as an outsider.

Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is a famous mystery novelist. In the night, he and his family celebrated his 85th birthday party. However, in the morning, he had been found covered in blood in his room. Enter detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) investigates. The last list is a member of the Thrombey family quietly awaiting the inheritance from the Thrombey family head. Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her husband hope to receive the inheritance. Ransom (Chris Evans), Linda’s son and also the scapegoat of the family, wants to take the inheritance so he doesn’t have to work.

Joni (Toni Collette), Harlan’s son-in-law and also a widow, wants to pay for the children’s education. Walt (Michael Shannon), Harlan’s youngest son, wants to receive full power over his father’s printing business. Detective Blanc, happily, entrusted little help to Harlan’s nurse, Marta (Ana de Armas). Marta is a kind-hearted person so that she becomes a family by Harlan even though she is someone else.

“Knives Out” has many initial surprises as well as a movie with so much extremely funny humor. One of them is that Marta. Every time she lies, she will always throw up. Johnson put Marta as a character who acts like a real person. Unlike the characters in general, not count on detective Blanc. As the story goes on, as the mystery slowly revealed, things also began to change. Marta initially won the most not because of all of the circumstances. But, it’s because of how is her characteristic and personality toward everything.

Marta is an outsider. So, the situation of wanting to get an inheritance, being accidentally dragged, and a murder case, is her fear for herself. Marta knew all the Thrombey family members and vice versa. They were all friendly to her and so was Marta. However, she has always been an outsider. Although the movie doesn’t focus on how this situation began, it’s about how Marta became the main point of the main conflict. The moment when you put into Marta’s perspective, the more you care about the protagonist.

Marta is always uncomfortable. When she is suddenly dragged into a political conversation about immigrants, they always don’t care. They talk about liberal, don’t blame each other, and don’t sound sincere. Marta, like it or not, had to move because of how she tried to understand all of these situations. She has many opportunities and also luck. Likewise, with other characters, there are always other characters trying to attack our protagonist. Above all, Marta is just not the family. However, she didn’t deserve oppression. In whodunit, there is always a scapegoat and Marta, it could be, a wider scope because of the breath.

“Knives Out” explores how fear of outsiders can arise. But, it’s everything about Rian Johnson. We always miss films like this. It reminds me when I try to guess who Keyser Söze was in “The Usual Suspects“. I remember how I often played hidden object games and tried to guess the suspect. I miss those moments. And I’m also thankful for Rian Johnson because he directed a great yet fresh original movie. If Rian Johnson can stick with original films like this and doesn’t need to touch “Star Wars” again, he might become one of the best directors in the 2010s.

I know, people have a lot of fun when they discuss the cast in this movie. It’s the same as “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood“. This movie has a centric cast. From Daniel Craig and Jamie Lee Curtis, they are all over-the-top-notch. But, if you want to talk more about Chris Evans’ relationship with dogs in this movie, you would love it. Everything about the cast is also under the concept. For instance, the Rashomon effect in the first introduction of Thormey’s family is fantastic. They speak one to another character and their relationship with a variety of perspectives.

Whodunit, and “Knives Out”, have their uniqueness. We always get to know how all these characters’ motives. We see how these characters have gaps and opportunities to escape. There is a false resolution and it leads to reveal or twist. I mean, this movie has a predictable suspect. But, I can’t say if this movie is so unique especially this is an original movie. It’s not an adaptation from a novel or anything. It’s just a great movie.

Smart and funny dialogues, written also by Rian Johnson, the colorful set of Thormbey’s mansion, a set of houses with lots of secret rooms, it’s so special. We think without being angry or stressed. Benoit Blanc also seems to be a mouthpiece or the man who reveals everything. Blanc isn’t Sherlock Holmes or any great fiction mystery character. He has his uniqueness thanks to his unique accent from Daniel Craig. I don’t even know this is the same guy who always becomes James Bond. He is different in this movie.

Rian Johnson turned our brain around to describe a depressed situation. He brought the original colors, almost everything, the characters, to come out. There is suspense and also comedy. He chose a structure with many expositions. We enter from the first act, the conflict, and resolution. And don’t forget about the twist at the end of the movie. It effectively works when Johnson flips through all sorts of points of view. With unique characters, always, there is no enough portion with specific characters.

In a nutshell, Rian Johnson is a great director. He only became a joke and hatred only when he began to touch “Star Wars”. And everybody goes mad when he releases a new film. They give a low rating just because it’s Rian Johnson. And I’m glad he wants to make a sequel to this movie even though I think the ending of the movie is good; I’m just glad. We get a lot of great movies in 2019. There are “Parasite” as an arthouse movie about social caste criticism in the thriller, comedy, suspense, and horror genres. And at the end of the year, there was Rian Johnson, completing the game as well. He presents a fresh, unique, and fun murder mystery with criticism about fear to the outsider.

Salman Al Farisi

An Indonesian who loves to watch and read everything. A literary student who likes to write about reviews and essays on Crackdown Review. But, I just wannabe critics who love arthouse than anything.

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