Knives Out W/ Adam from Bedsit Cinema
“Then at the half-way mark the murderer is revealed, dissipating the mystery, polarising audiences, and placing Adam and myself on different sides of the argument.”
Talking with Adam
I have teamed up with Adam from Bedsit Cinema to debate the film Knives Out (2019). This was one of the best films I saw that year, but Adam could not get on with it. When we started debating the film we approached it from different angles and I have used many of Adams questions to structure my side of things. Please check out what he does with it here! I would highly recommend his work.
Knives Out reminded me of the film The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), which was a bit distracting.
What did you think of it stylistically?
This question was an interesting one. Adam found the style very Wes Anderson-esque and he is utterly right! The characters are wacky, and each has a strong, funny, and engaging personality. From the likes of Benoit Blanc’s (Daniel Craig) terrible and shocking Southern accent to Marta’s (Ana De Armas) tendency to vomit when she lies, this film is full of hilarious quirks. They feel larger than life! I feel like Rian Johnson (Director) really did do something original stylistically by applying these comic-beats to an Agatha Christie style murder mystery. It is new and exciting!
A good murder mystery hooks you in but Knives Out lost me halfway, what do you think?
I found the mystery to be enthralling in the first half of the film. I was utterly at a loss about who did it, everyone just seemed so guilty! The plot is told through a series of interviews with the family and Marta, and each provokes a flashback that changes the perception of the mystery. It is completely brilliant and had me completely hooked. Then at the half-way mark the murderer is revealed, dissipating the mystery, polarising audiences, and placing Adam and myself on different sides of the argument.
For me, there is a hook in the second half. We find ourselves rooting for the (technical) murderer and this is a fantastic twist. Rian Johnson skilfully made the murderer likeable; (we will conceal their identity) they stand out as a good person despite playing a part in the death of Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer)! Benoit becomes some sort of villain-detective who will inevitably find the killer that you want to see saved.
To me it had a weak social commentary, did you think that and what did you think of it?
We are back on the same side to an extent! The social commentary feels as if it should be taken with a pinch of salt. It is nowhere near as nuanced or rich as in other films (I am looking at you Parasite!) It is a big middle finger to the ruling classes with the rich Thrombey family seeming spoilt, they have been handed success and they feel entitled. They are more grieved by the potential loss of money then they are by the death of a beloved relative. This makes the film feel un-layered; like Rian Johnson just wanted to poke fun at the powers that be.
I found the ending totally underwhelming, what about it was good to you?
Here I must take a different position from Adam. I found myself filled with glee watching the final few shots of the film. Marta holding the cup of coffee from above on the balcony. It felt as if their positions had flipped, she was literally and metaphorically looking down on them. The cherry on top is the coffee cup in her hand (Harlan’s coffee cup) with the words ‘My House’ written on it. Marta gets the last laugh in the film and it feels great.
In terms of how the actual murder was solved, I do agree that it could be a little underwhelming. There is the big reveal by the detective in front of the whole party, a classic how they did it and why. This film is a spoof of the classic murder mystery yes, but it could still have been injected with some imagination. The murder mystery has been spoofed before after all. I agree that there might have been a better way to do it.
Whether I agree with Adam on everything or not he got me to think about Knives Out in new and interesting ways. He was right, I must say that I did enjoy the first half more than the second. It was more engaging and had real pace and humour. But for me this satire of Agatha Christie crossed with the wacky Wes Anderson style of filmmaking just works. Bring on more Benoit Blanc!
Adam from Bedsit Cinema has some great and entertaining reviews. Check out my favourites here: