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Director Johnson recreates Christie's murder mystery with 'Knives Out'

A poster for director Rian Johnson's new mystery film
A poster for director Rian Johnson's new mystery film "Knives Out," is a modern adaptation of an Agatha Christie style murder mystery. Courtesy of All Star Entertainment
By Lee Gyu-lee

Writer and director Rian Johnson, who directed "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," has created an entertaining, modern-day whodunit film based on Agatha Christie's murder mystery style in "Knives Out."

A murder in a closed area, full of suspects with a possible motive, sounds very similar to Christie's "Murder on the Orient Express," the most recent movie of which was in 2017 with an A-list cast. While paying homage to her work, this film tries to reinterpret it with relentless twists and turns, going through flashbacks, and incorporating bits and pieces of satire from politics and comedy.

The film starts with a maid finding Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), the patriarch of the house, with his throat slit the morning after celebrating his birthday with his family. The 85-year-old bestselling mystery novelist has amassed extreme wealth from his career and has spoiled his three children and his grandchildren.

Then, the fellow cast of A-listers come into play ― Daniel Craig as private detective Benoit Blanc, Chris Evans as grandson Ransom Drysdale, and Jamie Lee Curtis as daughter Linda Drysdale.

Private detective Blanc marches in with police Detective Lieutenant Elliott (Lakeith Stanfield) to investigate what seems like a suicide. Hired by an anonymous person, Blanc questions the family from the birthday party ― two of Thrombey's adult children Linda and publisher Walt (Michael Shannon), son-in-law Richard Drysdale (Don Johnson), widowed daughter-in-law Joni Thrombey (Toni Colletteher), and three grandchildren; Ransom, Meg (Katherine Langford) and Jacob (Jaeden Martell).

As Blanc questions, each member of the family ― except the most spoiled grandson Ransom who appears later on ― the film examines each characters' relationship with Harlan, filling the audience with suspicions about all of them. Out of such suspicions, only Harlan's nurse Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas) seems to be cleared of doubt with her kind, innocent eyes.

With the introduction of each member, the plot takes off quickly, flowing on with information and unfolding the events on the night of the crime. However, director Johnson meticulously weaves in the twists, reminding people to never trust anyone until the very end.

The story is set in a beautiful Victorian-style mansion and the camera zooms in on the odd decorations chosen by the mastermind mystery novelist, including an eye-catching sculpture made out of knives, and scenes full of hints. The director cleverly keeps revealing clues throughout to keep the audience guessing what truly happened that night.

The dysfunctional family constantly clashes and they point fingers at each other, their disputes only heightening as the inheritance announcement comes in. Aside from the mystery, it's intriguing enough to see the ensemble of famous actors giving scene-stealing performances as they progress through the film.

The film "Knives Out" will hit local theaters Dec. 4.


A poster for director Rian Johnson's new mystery film
A poster for director Rian Johnson's new mystery film "Knives Out," is a modern adaptation of an Agatha Christie style murder mystery. Courtesy of All Star Entertainment
By Lee Gyu-lee

Writer and director Rian Johnson, who directed "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," has created an entertaining, modern-day whodunit film based on Agatha Christie's murder mystery style in "Knives Out."

A murder in a closed area, full of suspects with a possible motive, sounds very similar to Christie's "Murder on the Orient Express," the most recent movie of which was in 2017 with an A-list cast. While paying homage to her work, this film tries to reinterpret it with relentless twists and turns, going through flashbacks, and incorporating bits and pieces of satire from politics and comedy.

The film starts with a maid finding Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), the patriarch of the house, with his throat slit the morning after celebrating his birthday with his family. The 85-year-old bestselling mystery novelist has amassed extreme wealth from his career and has spoiled his three children and his grandchildren.

Then, the fellow cast of A-listers come into play ― Daniel Craig as private detective Benoit Blanc, Chris Evans as grandson Ransom Drysdale, and Jamie Lee Curtis as daughter Linda Drysdale.

Private detective Blanc marches in with police Detective Lieutenant Elliott (Lakeith Stanfield) to investigate what seems like a suicide. Hired by an anonymous person, Blanc questions the family from the birthday party ― two of Thrombey's adult children Linda and publisher Walt (Michael Shannon), son-in-law Richard Drysdale (Don Johnson), widowed daughter-in-law Joni Thrombey (Toni Colletteher), and three grandchildren; Ransom, Meg (Katherine Langford) and Jacob (Jaeden Martell).

As Blanc questions, each member of the family ― except the most spoiled grandson Ransom who appears later on ― the film examines each characters' relationship with Harlan, filling the audience with suspicions about all of them. Out of such suspicions, only Harlan's nurse Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas) seems to be cleared of doubt with her kind, innocent eyes.

With the introduction of each member, the plot takes off quickly, flowing on with information and unfolding the events on the night of the crime. However, director Johnson meticulously weaves in the twists, reminding people to never trust anyone until the very end.

The story is set in a beautiful Victorian-style mansion and the camera zooms in on the odd decorations chosen by the mastermind mystery novelist, including an eye-catching sculpture made out of knives, and scenes full of hints. The director cleverly keeps revealing clues throughout to keep the audience guessing what truly happened that night.

The dysfunctional family constantly clashes and they point fingers at each other, their disputes only heightening as the inheritance announcement comes in. Aside from the mystery, it's intriguing enough to see the ensemble of famous actors giving scene-stealing performances as they progress through the film.

The film "Knives Out" will hit local theaters Dec. 4.


Lee Gyu-lee gyulee@koreatimes.co.kr


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