Movie Review: Knives Out

KNIVES OUTI’m allowed to review this movie because it has something to do with writing. The inciting character is an (uber-successful and famous) writer and the whole plot takes place securely in the genre of murder mystery, which is what Harlan Thrombey wrote. Nevermind that he had the kind of fame and notoriety (and also quirkiness) that gets put into stories and movies way more than it actually happens. A real writer’s life is almost never like the one in this movie. If it weren’t this way, though, there would be no quirky mansion for the murder and investigation to take place in and there would be no millions to give a motive. And there are also reasons for the characters to be familiar with the “game,” in order to react to a real-life potential murder in the ways they do. And for the murder mystery writer to become the center of a murder mystery, he has to be filthy rich.

Knives Out was billed as a typical murder mystery but with all the bells and whistles of big-name actors and a setting comfortable in a Wes Anderson movie. It’s sleek. It’s got a big marketing machine behind it. And did I mention the actors? Billing it that way–though it got the audience through the doors–did not do the movie justice. The most unconventional of the many conventional twists was that the main character is the private duty nurse. It’s like Clue told from the perspective of the maid. (There’s also a maid in this movie, but she plays a different role.) And what a Millenial-relevant nurse she is. She’s an immigrant. She’s young and hip in an un-hip way. She’s so real that she has this weird thing where lying makes her puke. Which is another unconventional twist in the typical murder mystery: a suspect who is incapable of lying. Flawed heroes, humanized villains, a parent trying to un-helicopter himself. Like I said, relevant.

This is my general assessment of the movie: great movie to watch once. It hooks you, engages you with the characters (including the family house), and keeps you guessing whodunnit. With its quirks and twists, the outcome isn’t totally obvious, or if it is to you, at least there are some details that will surprise you and some cinematic eye candy in the final scenes. The main character is so darn cute you just have to root for her. Some of the acting is pretty good, some of it is mediocre. I think it’s only fair to tell you now that there’s not nearly so much of the big names as you might expect from all the still shots. In the end, though—once you know all the twists and turns—you don’t need to watch this one again. Just enjoy it thoroughly the first time.

If you’re a writer and your husband is a nurse (hey! like me), then this is perfect date night pick. If you enjoy a good murder mystery or just a good, popular movie, like Orient Express, again, a perfect date night pick.

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