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2019, Crime/Mystery and thriller, 2h 10m. 463 Reviews 25,000+ Verified Ratings. Knives Out: Movie Clip - Observer of the Truth. Knives Out: Movie Clip - Gentle Request. Knives Out—In theaters November 27, 2019. Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon, LaKeith Sta. Knives Out—In theaters November 27, 2019. Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon, LaKeith Sta.
Carolyn Harper (Raven Whitley), dressed in her band uniform, carves her initial in the forehead of a jock named Andy Kitzmiller (Ty Olwin). He doesn’t care because he thinks he’s about to have sex, but she pushes him away. An angry Andy storms off with Carolyn’s glasses, leaving the girl stranded. She never makes it home. Did she simply run away? Is she still injured somewhere in the woods? Or is she dead? The movie that follows pretends to care but is more about the impact of her disappearance than any sort of mystery waiting to be solved.
Much like in the town of Twin Peaks, the classmates of the missing girl and their parents have more than a few idiosyncrasies. Reeder cycles through the lives of these teenagers, most of them addled by obnoxious boys and men. The most interesting is Andy’s sister Joanna (a promising Grace Smith), who ends up hit on by her substitute teacher and selling her mother’s underwear to another school official. The point that awful boys will become awful men is an interesting one, but these subplots are underdeveloped. Every time something feels like it’s about to gain thematic traction or narrative weight, “Knives and Skin” just floats off in another direction altogether. Maybe that’s part of the point? The inconsistency of the teenage existence? I feel like that may be giving a half-baked screenplay a bit too much credit.
The adults are even crazier, and they fare better in terms of character and performance. Marika Engelhardt throws herself into the grieving mother role, crying as she conducts her choir to sing “Our Lips Our Sealed” and sniffing Andy’s shirt and neck because they smell like her missing daughter. There’s something dangerous in her performance that the rest of the film sorely lacks. Every other adult has their baggage from infidelity to outright living a lie. Again, it’s a theme of Lynch or Gregg Araki to spotlight how adults are no more mature than their teenage children, but “Knives and Skin” feels like it doesn’t understand how to do this past a superficial level.
Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is a wildly successful mystery writer and he’s dead. His housekeeper Fran (Edi Patterson) finds him with a slit throat and the knife still in his hand. It looks like suicide, but there are some questions. After all, who really slits their own throat? A couple of cops (the wonderful pair of LaKeith Stanfield and Noah Segan) come to the Thrombey estate do a small investigation, just to make sure they’re not missing anything, and the film opens with their conversations with each of the Thrombey family members. Daughter Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis) is a successful businesswoman with a shit husband named Richard (Don Johnson) and an awful son named Ransom (Chris Evans). Son Walt (Michael Shannon) runs the publishing side, but he’s been fighting a lot with dear old dad. Daughter-in-law Joni (Toni Collette) is deep into self-help but has been helping herself by ripping off the old man. Finally, there’s Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas), the real heroine of “Knives Out” and Harlan’s most trusted confidante. Can she help solve the case?
The case may have just been closed if not for the arrival of the famous detective Benoit Blanc, played by Daniel Craig, who spins a southern drawl and oversized ego into something instantly memorable. Blanc was delivered a news story about the suicide and envelope of money. So someone thinks this is fishy. Why? And who? The question of who brought in Blanc drives the narrative as much as who killed Harlan. Johnson is constantly presenting viewers with the familiar, especially fans of the mystery movie—the single palatial setting, the family of monsters, the exaggerated detective—but then he subverts them every so slightly, and it feels fresh. So while Blanc feels like a Poirot riff, Johnson and Craig avoid turning it into a caricature of something we’ve seen before.
Knives Out Director
Craig is delightful—I love the excitement in his voice when he figures things out late in the film—but some of the cast gets lost. It’s inevitable with one this big, but if you’re going to “Knives Out” for a specific actor or actress, be aware that it’s a large ensemble piece and your fave may get short shrift. Unless your favorite is Ana de Armas, who is really the heart of the movie, allowing Johnson to imbue “Knives Out” with some wonderful political commentary. The Thrombeys claim to love Marta, even if they can’t remember which South American country she comes from, and Don Johnson gets a few razor sharp scenes as the kind of guy who rants about immigration before quoting “Hamilton.” It’s not embedded in the entire piece as much as “Get Out,” but this “Out” is similar in the way it uses genre structure to say something about wealth and social inequality. And in terms of performance, the often-promising de Armas has never been handed a role this big, and she totally delivers.