Knives Out ★★★★½

“This is a twisted web, and we are not finished untangling it, not yet.”

so basically this went Treat Them With Kindness but make it murder mystery and it’s so boujee yet accessible and some of the most fun i had in theaters this year. i thought i had the case all figured out very early on but there’s a sweet little surprise that makes the journey there even more impactful. Steve Yedlin’s cinematography deserves as much praise as Johnson’s direction. what a delight!

the opening shot is such a banger and immediately sets the tone for the film. not gonna tell you what it is but you’ll make some connections yourself. Rian Johnson subverts genre conventions and expectations left and right, always a little tongue-in-cheek, never without respect for the giants that came before him. it’s a little love letter to the armchair mysteries out there, the eccentric detectives and the dusty old mansions full of suspects that couldn’t be more suspicious. atmospheric moments to die for. 

the production design for this is so subtly clever. bringing not only the feeling of a truly british victorian setting into a modern american context but also coding every frame with all these detailed props and colors; i could watch this 47 times and still find dozens of new hints and pieces in visual offerings like in the library or Harlan’s study. lovingly worked interiors that bring you back into times past like a cabinet of curiosities. you’re in dozens of different stories at once, Doyle and Poe and Christie all in the lines between Johnson’s story. 

cannot explain to you how transportive this gem is but i can still smell old books and expensive wood, musty air and a little bit of that sting that exposed metal has in old houses. the creaks of certain floor panels, ticking of clocks on ornate mantelpieces and always the creeping sensation of something happening just around the corner like the echo of a noise to come. so much of this relies wholly on subjective hearing and seeing for the characters as well as for us and i love how it kicks you into high-gear affective engagement with them. 

fleshed out characters which work on so many levels, not least because of a wonderful cast led by Ana de Armas and Daniel Craig. said something about how emotional that last act is and that’s what a lot of these whodunits lack for me personally so this was refreshing. can’t wait to see it again when it’s in cinemas closer to me. if Johnson plans on making this intelligent transatlantic murder mystery endeavor a series i’ll be on board for every sequel.

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