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Rian Johnson’s ‘Knives Out’ is one of the best films of the year. (Photo provided via @cam_junge on Twitter)

Film Review: Rian Johnson redefines the murder mystery genre with ‘Knives Out’

When the trailer for Rian Johnson’s latest film Knives Out was released, it generated a lot of excitement among audiences for a seemingly fresh and exciting “whodunnit.”

No one would have guessed from the trailer that Knives Out would be one of the best films of the year, incomparable to any other film and completely redefining the murder mystery genre.

The film follows the investigation of Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer)’s death, after his 85th birthday party. Though it’s initially ruled as a suicide, the private investigator on the case, Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), suspects foul play and eliminates no suspects. 

What’s so amazing about the film is that it constantly keeps you guessing. It goes from a traditional murder-mystery to something completely different, and the audience goes from rooting for the murder to be solved to hoping it never is. Johnson’s attention to detail is ridiculously acute, and makes all the difference in the film’s execution.

In keeping with the theme of attention to detail, the set design and costumes were superb. The set, courtesy of art director Jeremy Woodward and set decorator David Schlesinger, is adorned with the most intricate pieces of artwork, furniture and small details that come into play with the film’s execution. The costumes, by Jenny Eagan, fit each character so perfectly the audience could almost form an opinion about each character simply based on their appearance. 

However, the impeccable cast is what truly makes the film amazing. Craig’s performance as Detective Blanc and Ana de Armas’ performance as Marta are the frontrunners of the film, but it’s Armas’ performance that truly deserves mountains of praise. She captivates the audience with her every thought, move and emotion. Chris Evans’ performance as Ransom Drysdale is also a refreshing departure from what he’s known for. 

However, it’d be a complete act of disrespect to not mention the wonderful performances of the rest of the cast. Jamie Lee Curtis’ blunt and honest performance mixed with Michael Shannon’s unstable and drunk performance, and Toni Collete’s free spirited nature is simply the icing on the cake that is this incredible film. 

Though there are too many supporting roles to mention, it’s safe to say there are no weak links in the film, and everyone gives some of their best performances.

Another highlight of the film is its undertones of immigration. Though there is a very clear scene where two characters discuss the idea of how disturbing immigration laws are in this day and age, the entire film could be seen as a metaphor for immigration. The audience never learns where Marta is from, perpetuating and magnifying the idea of Latinx homogeneity, or that their countries and cultures are interchangeable.

A great deal of ideas in the film showcase microaggressions and direct racism, from the family first believing she may be responsible for Harlan’s death, to threatening her by exposing her mother, who is undocumented, to the authorities. The film doesn’t make the entire plot about immigration and racism, but it’s extremely apparent that Johnson wants to convey tones of immigration throughout the viewing experience. 

Every aspect of the film is impeccably executed. Even Craig’s accent alone makes the film worth seeing. Knives Out, without a doubt, is one of the best films of 2019, and a complete redefining of the murder mystery genre. 


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