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Knives Out (2019)

CRUMBLIES…5 crumblies

Oh, wow. This is brilliant. I know having half your insides cut out and changing your physique from slouching oldster to gutted-fish will test your intellect and view of the world, but old Jack here can confirm that the best film of 2019 is absolutely and definitely, indefatigably and gorgeously, Knives Out. And don’t you believe otherwise…

Love it. Rian Johnson rolled off the loveliness of The Last Jedi (2017) into making this tale of the murder – or is it? – of Christopher Plummer‘s patriarch of a rich family of American character actors. Oh, but it’s fun!

The family convene at the spooky and creaky mansion made from Plummer’s crime writing. He’s turning 85 and in smartly designed scenes and not-so scenes manages to piss off all his key relatives. Motives for murder – or is it? – run aplenty when, the next morning, he is found in his book loft, dead, throat apparently slit by his own hand.

And then, up pops Daniel Craig in glorious close-ups and testing accent as the privately-paid investigator, Benoit Blanc, helping the dazed police. Interviews rapidly illuminate – in full Agatha Christie mode – the likely culpability of all members of the family…including Marta, old man Plummer’s nurse…

And that’s all you’re getting. Wipe yourself down, get out of that chair, unless you can’t, in which case wheel it to the TV room and ask – nay, demand – that this gem be slapped on immediately. Old Jack adored it. You will too.

And why? You may ask. Well:

The Plot: convoluted, surprising, fun and cleverly-clever. You’ll follow it, get thrown or distracted by it, feel moments of satisfaction, bemusement, smugness and guilt at the smugness thing. Honestly, it’s like one of those trifles Delia used to make: lady fingers, custard, amaretto surprises and a sea of sherry. Yum. Brainwork and sexy-funny.

The Cast: beautiful, clever, funny performances of a family and its associates, drenched in character and dry comedy. Craig is terrific. Plummer does everything old folk need him to do: clever, controlling, judgemental, and…justified. Jamie Lee Curtis as his daughter is haughty, broken and snarky. Chris Evans does cocky and 1920s-ish flyboy with brilliance; you spend half the film expecting him to crash his Bentley. And Ana de Armas lends Marta a vulnerability and honesty that belies most of what happens to her. The poor thing vomits when she lies…and is secretly the main character…

They’re all loved by the camera, as are the landscape, sets and revelations. The camera is especially fond of Craig and de Armas’s faces, a quick Google revealing that other cameras have liked the rest of the latter rather more. This film, I’d hope, is the one that takes them both into  the world of subtle, clever performances they’ll need after their next venture (James Bond ahoy in 2020).

Oh…this one’s just too good to miss! It’s a perfect Christmas afternoon film. No, Boxing Day. Give the booze and sugar a day to clear your system. Plummer – the wise, manipulative old owl – hangs over the whole thing almost as winkingly smart as Johnson’s script.

Knives Out? Get in!

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