Rian Johnson Takes Another Stab at Drama with “Knives Out”

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Claire Folger

Thomas Dandridge, News Editor

After directing the controversial film, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”, Rian Johnson has returned to his roots in dramatic filmmaking with his latest film, “Knives Out”. The film opened to commercial success, garnering an encouraging $70 million worldwide debut, according to Forbes. However, many films have shown that great box office revenue does not always indicate a great film. With that being said, is “Knives Out” a good movie, but more importantly, is it worth your time?

The film features a plethora of renowned Hollywood actors, including Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Katherine Langford, Jamie Lee Curtis, Frank Oz, and more. All of these actors have storied resumes and have starred in numerous blockbusters, but one of the films biggest standouts is Marta Cabrera, one of the film’s protagonists, played by Ana de Armas. She expertly portrays Marta’s emotions and mannerisms throughout the film, to the point where, at times, even surrounded by A-list actors, she manages to be the most organic character on screen.

None of this is to say the other actors perform poorly, as they all deliver great performances in their own right. As Johnny Oleksinski of the New York Post writes, “The fun in ‘Knives Out’ is watching an ensemble of super-serious actors getting to misbehave.”

Each actor plays off one another fantastically, to giving the feeling of an authentic, though rather scandalous, family. Daniel Craig in particular shines as the film’s obligatory detective, Benoit Blanc, while also toting a heavy Creole accent. This role is a rather strange, though welcoming, departure from his notable appearances as James Bond. While this did feel unorthodox in the beginning of the film, I quickly grew accustomed to it and had a blast with Craig’s character for the rest of the ride.

Now enough about acting, what is the movie about? The story is your typical “whodunit,” featuring a shocking murder, shady suspects, and multiple twists along the way. Renowned crime novelist Harlan Thrombey is found dead in his home just after his 85th birthday, and it’s up to Benoit Blanc to discover the truth surrounding his death. Where the film shines is in the eccentricity of its characters and the order in which it chooses to tell its narrative. Each character has his or her own quirks that keep you from ever being sure what they’ll say or do next. Without spoiling anything, the film manages to reveal a vital plot element early-on while still keeping audiences on edge. The movie is lighthearted and nonsensical while also managing to be serious and even thrilling when it needs to be.

The film’s cinematography varies from really good to stunning, but the audience is never left confused or disappointed with a shot. Rian Johnson embellishes an already great film with various shots that will leave you mesmerized. Varied camera angles and, at times, unusual shot composition make the film entertaining not only for the plot, but also for the shots.

“Knives Out” is a delightful new spin on a dated genre, and one that is certainly welcome. Whether you’re a fan of all things mystery or simply looking to be entertained, this is a film I strongly recommend.