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The Hosts

Claire Folger/Lionsgate

Knives Out (2019)

As one would expect from a whodunit, “Knives Out” is rife with false leads and misdirection. But it’s not so slick as to warrant or withstand repeat viewings. Without spoiling who did it here, the film's big reveal replays a couple of clues, in case you miss them early on, and intersperses those with previously unseen footage and information withheld from the characters and the viewers. The film never shrewdly pulls the wool over our eyes, because its ending isn’t so much a twist as it is context to facts we’ve already gathered.

With that said, perhaps the more interesting way to read “Knives Out” is as a political allegory. Its nods at Trumpian politics mean that the film probably won’t stand the test of time. The plot revolves around the death of moneyed mystery writer Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) and his clan of entitled trust fund babies suspected of killing him at the prospect of getting cut off financially.

Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas), daughter of an illegal immigrant from Paraguay who has been Harlan’s nurse, appears to have been adopted by all as a member of the family -- that includes an alt-right grandson, Jacob (Jaeden Martell) -- whose members like to pontificate about the virtues of the border wall in polite post-dinner conversation with Marta. But once Marta threatens to upset the status quo, xenophobia really surfaces among these white elites.

Rian Johnson seems to argue, not so subtly, that no one has earned the right to be here or is entitled to wealth and privilege by default, both within the extended Thrombey clan and within American society. Given the way the rich keep scheming and plotting against the poor and one another, “Knives Out” proves to be the exact opposite of “Parasite” in every way imaginable.


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