“Knives Out” is a brilliant murder mystery with a great cast.
Detective Lt. Elliot (LaKeith Stanfield) and Trooper Wagner (Noah Segan) are investigating the apparent suicide of Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer). They begin their interviews with Linda Drysdale (Jamie Lee Curtis), the eldest daughter.
The family gathered to celebrate Harlan’s 85th birthday, including her son, Ransom (Chris Evans) and Juanita, Harlan’s mother.
“Really. How old is she?” Elliot asks.
“We don’t know.”
Linda and her husband, Richard (Don Johnson), came early to set up the party.
“Harlan started out with a rusty Smith Corona typewriter and built himself into one of the most successful mystery writers of all time,” Richard tells the officers.
Walt (Michael Shannon) is Harlan’s youngest son who runs his publishing company. “Thirty languages, over 80 million copies sold. Dad said the plots popped into his head, that was the easy part.”
Joni Thrombey (Toni Collette) is Harlan’s daughter in law, who is a skin care magnate. Harlan has been paying Joni’s daughter Meg’s (Katherine Langford) college tuition for years.
The famous and renowned private Investigator Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) sits in on the interviews. He offers to help with the investigation.
An argument is recalled between Harlan and Walt, who renews his demand to exploit the lucrative film and television rights for the books. Harlan apologizes to Walt for holding him back for all of the years and tells him he will no longer be running the company in the morning. Walt, in turn, recounts a big fight between Harlan and Ransom. Blanc confronts Richard about his own shouting match with Harlan, which in flashback shows that Harlan was going to expose Richard’s extramarital affair to Linda. It is also revealed that Harlan found out that Joni has been stealing from the tuition money to the tune of $400,000.
Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas) was Harlan’s nurse who is considered “one of the family” and cannot lie without getting sick to her stomach. Blanc does not know who hired him to investigate Harlan’s death — an envelope with cash was delivered to his apartment.
“Something is a foot with this whole affair,” Benoit tells Marta. “I know it and you know it, too.”
“So you’re gonna keep digging.”
“Harlan’s detectives, they dig, they rifle and root. They’re truffle pigs. I determine the gravity of rainbows… it’s a novel.”
“I know. I haven’t read it though.”
“Neither have I. Nobody has. But I like the title. It describes the path of a projectile determined by natural law. Voila. My method. I observe the facts without biases of the head or heart. I determine the arc’s path, stroll leisurely to its terminus and the truth falls to my feet.”
Written and directed by Rian Johnson, who was just nominated for a Best Original Screenplay Oscar, the film is a great take on the classic whodunit genre, and is refreshingly insightful and witty, with elegant plot twists and standout performances, particularly Craig’s performance as a Southern gentleman detective with an edge (“think of the reading of the will as a community theater production of a tax return”) and Plummer in flashbacks as the wise and clever patriarch.