Very famous and super-successful crime writer Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) invites representatives of the extended Thrombey family to his huge mansion to celebrate his 85th birthday. The family, to be honest, is not very friendly: there are many intra-family contradictions among her offspring and relatives. Harlan also has to make certain announcements for several members of the family, which they will probably not like, because they are all seriously dependent on the head of the family.
The next day, the maid serving breakfast to the old man finds him not in the bedroom, but in the study on the top floor: Harlan is dead and lying on the sofa with his throat cut. It all looks like a suicide, but the police have to find out what really happened.
A few days later, before the commemoration, the police begin to interrogate everyone who was at this 85th anniversary. And the composition of the participants there was quite large. Harlan’s daughter Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis) is a fairly successful business woman. She arrived with her husband Richard (Don Johnson) – a womanizer and a rake. Their son Hugh Ransom (Chris Evans), who many family members consider an arrogant freak, was at the party, but left quite early after talking with his grandfather in raised tones.
Also at the birthday party was Harlan’s youngest son Walt (Michael Shannon) – he is in charge of the publishing house that publishes his father’s books. Walt tries in vain to persuade Harlan to transfer the rights to create film versions of his books, but the old man categorically refuses: he says that all film detectives are terrible junk. Along with Walt, his wife Donna (Riki Lindhome) and their 16-year-old right-wing internet troll son Jacob were in attendance.
The group of relatives is closed by Joni Thrombey (Toni Collette) – the widow of the eldest son of Harlan Neil, who died 15 years ago. She came with her daughter Meg (Katherine Langford) – a kind and helpful girl.
Of the people working in the mansion, Harlan’s closest assistant and nurse was at the party – a young girl, Marta Cabrera, who came to the States from Latin America. Also there was the housekeeper Fran (Edie Patterson).
All of them are interrogated by police officer Wagner (Noah Segan), but private detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is also present at the interrogation: as it turned out, he was hired by an anonymous person to investigate the circumstances of Harlan’s death.
This film was directed by Rian Johnson from his own script. The script, of course, was clearly inspired by the detective stories of Agatha Christie, but there is no “old song in a new way” here, because the story is completely original.
(By the way, the name of the picture has nothing to do with what happens in the film: it is, in fact, just the title of a song from the Radiohead album.)
Johnson managed to create a fairly original film: on the one hand, this is really a detective story with a famously twisted plot, which seems to be staged as a typical representative of this genre. On the other hand, despite the seriousness of the topic, the style of presenting the material is quite light and there are a lot of funny moments in the picture. At the same time, this is not a parody, it is a detective story.
With plot twists, everything here is quite interesting and dashing, and Johnson also easily combines two different detective directions: “finding the killer” and “how to hide the ends.” And the audience will not know until the end what really happened, although the main intrigue seems to be revealed almost in the middle of the film.
But why this picture is valuable – it is multi-layered. Initially, this is a sedate detective in a huge mansion, squinting like a Victorian, stuffed with so many antiques, as if an entire antique shop had burst through it.
With the advent of the private detective Benoit Blanc (a clear reference to Hercule Poirot, although Blanc is not a Belgian here, but a pure American with a very peculiar Louisiana pronunciation), it seems that everything will continue within the genre: an insightful detective will methodically reveal a bloody secret, but rather you quickly realize that Blank, despite all his fame and celebrity, let’s say, is a little rustic. Viewers, who by a certain point already seem to have a complete picture of events, are shown how Blank acts, unlike the viewers of this picture, he does not have it, and it looks pretty funny.
However, this is not Inspector Clouseau from The Pink Panther (what is the original take, what is the remake): Detective Blank here is not at all buffoonish. He’s just… well, a must see.
And you need to see with what rapture Daniel Craig, tortured by this damn Bond movie, plays this role: he is directly alive and glowing, unlike his rotten Bond, who in the latest films is not only not very alive, but seems to have died long before the moment when he was shaken, but not mixed.
The same bright and funny Craig was in the recent film “Logan Luck” by Soderbergh: apparently, any chance to escape from the super-spy franchise acts on him in the most invigorating way.
One of the main characters in the picture – Harlan’s nurse Martha Cabrera – was played by Cuban Ana de Armas. A lot of things were tied to her there, and Ana looked quite decent in the film: a weak girl from the “come in large numbers”, who got into very difficult circumstances, which makes her act quite decisively.
Her character had a certain disorder: when she was forced to lie, she immediately vomited. At first, this plot device seemed very strained, but later it became clear that it was not introduced in vain – one funny trick was connected with this.
In secondary roles, a whole constellation of good actors starred here: Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette and Christopher Plummer. All of them are very good, especially Jamie Lee Curtis and Toni Collette, it’s a pity that their heroines did not have to come to the fore so often.
I liked Chris Evans in the role of Hugh: his character does not put the rest of the family in a penny, and, of course, he will not wait for any support or sympathy from them. As “Captain America” Evans was so correct-poster, and here he is a kind of “bad guy”, and this character turned out to be very interesting for him.
In general, I enjoyed it a lot. I’m actually not a big fan of Agatha Christie-style detective stories, but here this style, firstly, received a good author’s rethinking, and secondly, a certain irony was added to this, while the picture continued to remain within certain genre limits.
It seems to be nothing special, the picture is quite chamber (although I will let it slip that a spectacular car chase awaits the audience closer to the finale), but at the same time the plot twists are good, the staging is masterful and the acting is excellent. I think this movie is very worth watching.
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Director: Rian Johnson Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, Christopher Plummer, Toni Collette, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Lakeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Riki Lindhome, Noah Segan
Budget: $40 million, Worldwide gross: $279 million
Crime detective, USA, 2019, 131 min.