will’s review published on Letterboxd:
i think max coombes put it beautifully when they wrote that knives out's machinations (my own word) make it "less a love letter than an exorcism." inferring then the dense material contexts converging upon a staple form that sets the arena for us, as max continues: "Which is the whole thing, the reason we're here, the reason we got tickets and the reason this is either brilliant or dead on arrival..." the film denies the staple. denies the abstraction of form from text, form from history, form from people. it's about the type of people this form has allowed for, down to the ontopological space of a manor suited for a murder mystery. the "weaksauce" ideal motives, encapsulations of a fantastical moment, not a genealogy. knives out invites all of us to this arena, but never goes further than the invite. only ever a wink.
one of my first thoughts coming out of the theater was that this was a terrible whodunnit, but a fantastic film. a very personal and banal thought, formulated as simple as it looks: i knew whodunnit. i knew rather early on, which, in a certain view of the arena may spoil the fun. but the film hinges itself not on the reveal, not on truths, not even on its supreme technical skill, but on that aforementioned wink. it's why this will be either endearing to you, the viewer, or the latest neoliberal patch into a fabric that is quickly unraveling. all the contexts in the now, about the inordinate amount of wealth in the hands of the few is here, even if the stage is skewed, veiled and poised at an angle to obfuscate. i like this film for the thread of knife -> kindness -> fake knife, but the catharsis of the ending cannot mask a film deeply rooted in understanding what power is. and it's in that understanding that film, or the enjoyment of it, begins to unravel.