A Murder Mystery Worthy of Agatha Christie: A Review of ‘Knives Out’ (2019)

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' is an inventive, suspense-filled and devilishly intriguing tribute to the murder mystery genre that powerfully remind us of the timeless influence of the Queen of Crime herself, . However, it's not just an ordinary rehash of conventional narratives; it pushes the boundaries of the genre, reinvigorating it with a fresh perspective.

Directed by , ‘Knives Out' is a beautifully presented, lively film trailing the intricacies of a murder investigation within a complex mystery novelist's family. Its narrative skillfully keeps you hooked from the inciting incident until the climactic revelation, guiding you through a roller-coaster of suspense, power play, intense drama, and occasional humor. Through these concerted efforts, the film successfully paints a canvas reminiscent of an Agatha Christie novel, explicitly echoing the ingenuity of her most notable works.

The film's strength lies in its tantalizingly slow reveals coupled with compelling characters deftly portrayed by a stellar ensemble, including , , , and , to name a few. Craig plays the flamboyant detective Benoit Blanc, who's been anonymously hired to solve the enigmatic death of renowned novelist Harlan Thrombey (). Ana de Armas shines as Marta, Thrombey's nurse, confidant and the emotional core of the film. The complex interplay among the Thrombey family adds depth and entertainment to the narrative.

The screenplay is neither overbearing nor underwhelming, but perfectly marinated in satire, wit, and innuendos. Rian Johnson's direction masterfully ferries this ensemble aboard his remarkable storytelling prowess. The attention to detail in the narrative is noteworthy, with every minute aspect being crucial to the plot, making it a delightful viewing for the fans of the genre.

However, ‘Knives Out' extends beyond the classic structure of a murder mystery. It interweaves elements of social commentary, subtly satirizing wealth, entitlement, immigration, and the false facades within family dynamics. These elements fuel the storyline, creating a fascinating tapestry far exceeding the expectations of a conventional whodunit. In this respect, Johnson strikes gold as he skillfully balances these intense, thought-provoking themes with a humorous, light-hearted tone that keeps the audiences engrossed.

Daniel Craig's distinctive performance as Benoit Blanc, donning a Southern accent and evident eccentricities, is a far cry from his more conventional roles such as James Bond. The same can be said for Chris Evans, who departs from his righteous image of to showcase a more self-serving, arrogant character, thus giving a robust breadth of characterization to the film.

Ana de Armas is the heart of the film, eliciting sympathy and curiosity. Her character Marta serves as a moral compass amidst the familial chaos, providing a poignantly humane touch to the intrigue unfolding around her.

The movie's cinematography is worth mentioning as it captures the grandeur of the Thrombey mansion, accentuating the eerie suspense. The mansion, filled with cleverly hidden clues, intriguing antiquities, and secret tunnels transforms into a vital character in itself, mirroring Christie's love for eccentricities.

The zippy pacing and the constant surprises of ‘Knives Out' are the trademarks of Agatha Christie's classic detective stories. While the film's plot maintains enough complexity to keep the audiences guessing, it doesn't get weighed down by its labyrinthine design, thus retaining its charm and entertainment quotient.

Rian Johnson's ‘Knives Out' is a scintillating tribute to Agatha Christie and her legacy in the murder mystery genre. It's inventive, thrilling, and surprisingly humorous, conclusively crafting a universe you cannot help but get involved in. It pays homage to the genre's traditions while turning some of its conventions on their heads. In doing so, it resurrects the murder mystery for contemporary audiences, leaving them begging for more. ‘Knives Out' is unequivocally a must-watch piece of cinema that elegantly marries classic mystery aesthetics with modern storytelling sensibility.

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