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‘Knives Out’: An Old-Fashioned Murder Mystery with a Chef’s Surprise

Part of a roundup of Woodend’s winter film reviews.

Dorothy Woodend 10 Dec 2019 | TheTyee.ca

Dorothy Woodend is culture editor for The Tyee. Reach her here.

Moving right along in our year-end review of December films, who doesn’t love a good, old-fashioned murder mystery?

Rian Johnson has fashioned a corker using familiar ingredients arranged into a tasty new concoction with his just-released film Knives Out.

The secret sauce in this particular recipe is a light touch and flavourful performances.

I’ll give away nothing about the plot. It’s a chef’s surprise! The less you know, the better to enjoy all the tasty morsels it serves up. But let’s just say the film walks a delicate line between giving folks the familiar old tripe and filling it with inventive new stuffing.

As all the elements are assembled — a giant, creepy house, a rich old man and his useless family — you might think you know what’s coming. But you will be most deliciously wrong. Add in a good-hearted young woman with no stomach for lies and top it all off with a master detective and voila, Murder Flambé!

Now, all good murder mysteries have their colourful casts.

Let’s meet the main man. Unlike Hercule Poirot or Sherlock Holmes, Benoit Blanc (played by Daniel Craig), hired to investigate a murder in the Thrombey family, is a gentleman sleuth of the cornpone variety, prone to eccentric habits like flipping coins, plunking pianos and crooning off-key.

He’s a bonafide character of the Foghorn Leghorn style, best summed up by another character as “CSI meets KFC.”

As Blanc, Craig’s southern fried drawl oozes fatuous charm like a grease stain. You’ll want to lick his porkchop face and smack your lips together, I do declare!

The rest of the ensemble is composed of various members of the Thrombey clan — nasty playboy, lifestyle influencer, corporate amazon, philandering husband, and a mournful masturbating teenage Nazi. That’s some kind of crazy stew.

The cast is a prime A-grade thespian with Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Michael Shannon, Christopher Plummer and Craig’s delicious turn.

Kudos must be given to Johnson, who took on writing, directing and producing responsibilities. He’s the cook and head bottlewasher, but the film zips along, bippety-boppety boo, and the ringing conclusion comes into view with a few last moment shockers.

The thing that I most appreciated about this film is the little sly shiv in the ribs in the final scene. Mmm, delish!  [Tyee]

Read more: Media, Film

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