Coronavirus closure: Movies worth watching

'Knives Out' a classic whodunnit with all-star cast

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Official Lionsgate trailer

Daniel Craig and Ana de Armas play the lead roles in trying to find the killer of Harlan Thrombey.

Ian Hall, Guest Writer

“Knives Out” is a masterful blend of character, dialogue, and plot, giving audiences a movie they haven’t seen in a long while.

The main character is Marta Cabera, a medical assistant to the aging Harlan Thrombey who finds herself in the middle of an investigation of the death of Harlan. She’s a kind and caring character, being physically incapable of lying (for it makes her throw up), and does her best to hold true to what’s best for the Thrombeys and her own family.

Ana de Armas does a great job portraying Martas character. Her emotion on the screen seems pure and true, and her dialogue overall feels wholly natural, not too over expository as some movies fall into nowadays.

Daniel Craig’s character, Detective Blanc, is a cool and secretive private investigator, searching for the true meaning behind Harlan Thrombey’s death. Accompanied with his quick wit and southern drawl, he sets off interviewing each family member present at the birthday party the night prior to Harlan’s death, and finds himself partnering up with Marta to get to the bottom of it.

As a whole, Daniel Craig’s portrayal of Detective Blanc is surprisingly strong at first sight, his southern accent is a bit jarring at first, for he’s mostly known for his roles in the James Bond series. But, I quickly got used to the accent, and I came to appreciate how much fun it seems he is having playing this character.

“Knives Out” strongly harnesses its tone, and this can’t be more evident than through the setting. Taking place in a massive old English-like manor, sitting on top of a hill in the countryside, every one of the characters says the place is straight out of a Clue game board. Displaying beautiful shots of the massive, winding, and complex interior of the Thrombey residence gives the audience a great sense of scale of the physical setting, and immediately sets a strong tone of a classic murder mystery, that frankly hasn’t been greatly represented in media for a long time.

While the setting for the movie sets the groundwork, the characters give the movie great charm. Each character has some sort of uniqueness or quirk to them, that makes the audience wonder how their individual personalities will affect the developing narrative throughout the film.

For example, Marta Cabera has a condition in which she compulsively throws up any time she lies, and Ransom is a sort of black sheep in the family, being isolated from the others for the majority of his life, and comes back after Harlan’s death for unknown motives. In all, “Knives Out” writes its characters to be amazingly unique and interesting, providing great charm and flavor to the movie.

The central conflict of “Knives Out” is simple, but sets the inner mechanisms for the other aspects, setting and character into motion. During the night of his birthday party, Harlan Thrombey dies, seemingly to be a suicide, with him slitting his own throat, but after an unknown party hires a private investigator, and some digging around, it case starts to look more like a homocide. The movie continues on a thrilling hunt for the truth, with several people and parties, warring for their own outcome of the investigation, and for some of that sweet sweet inheritance money.

For me, “Knives Out” reminds me of another murder mystery movie, Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window,” mostly in terms of character dynamics, and plot progression. Rear Window has a similarly unique ensemble cast of characters, each adding their own characteristics to the movie, and starting up and moving along intricate plot points in the discovery of the murder. However the two movies differ in their setting and telling of the plot, in which Rear Window’s setting takes place from the main character, L.B. Jeffrie’s rear window in his apartment, but still portrays a mystery just as thrilling as “Knives Out.”

While “Knives Out” does a great job interweaving most characters’ subplots and character dynamics, there are a few characters that don’t get as much attention, or their subplots aren’t fully fleshed out and realized.

A few that come to mind are Meg’s plan and money to continue college, and Don Johnson’s secret affair. While these points aren’t fully realized in the movie, it is still a small nitpick, and overall doesn’t ruin the experience whatsoever.

Overall, I give “Knives Out” a grade of 95%. I was quite blown away by the movie, specifically the dialogue and characters really shone through with their uniqueness, wittiness, and understanding of tone. I would recommend anyone in the market for a fun, mind-bending murder mystery to go watch “Knives Out.” It’s a wild ride the whole way through.