Thursday, December 5, 2019

Knives Out: A Judiciously Political Ginzo-matic Review

An all-star cast in an all too allegorical murder mystery!

"Warning! Spoilers, Spoilers, Spoilers!" yells this movie analyst.

"Read on anyway! Knives Out's plot is a farce!" he replies with defiance.

Yes indeedy, prepare yourselves!  From a distance Knives Out looks like a cookie-cutter whodunit with a tangled and tired Shyamalan twist ending. Grandma and grandpa will nod and smirk throughout the movie as the Murder She Wrote web of clues unfurls with Matlockian justicial flare.

And yet, Knives Out serves up a cutting edge, allegorical whodunit mystery for the contemporary era, a film more in the keeping with Get Out and Us than any polished Agatha Christie regurgitation.  Beneath the cheesy surface of the mystery, its exaggerated trove of saucy, family suspects, and layers upon layers of lasagna noodle clues, lies a delicious allegory of the rise and fall of American privilege.

The tangle: with the assistance of his kindhearted nurse/friend Marta, a successful mystery writer covers up his own imminent accidental death to look like a suicide and unwittingly avoids his would-be murder. Having changed his will weeks prior, leaving all to said nurse he denies his eccentric, financially-dependent family their expected inheritance, increasing their infighting exponentially including the would-be killer grandson who resorts to another murder in an attempt to declare the will null and void. A suave detective and two boiler-plate cops help to unravel the mystery. At the conclusion, the young nurse stands above all, inheritance secure, gazing upon the self-wrought wreckage of the family.

The allegory: founding father style, creative industriousness (the writer) has perished having only found a true connection in the hardworking, new generation dreamers (the nurse). When the privileged descendants (the family) find their promised, unearned dream slipping away from them, they rebel, retaliate and gnash their teeth to remain in power. Nevertheless, constitutional values (the detective) and justice (the police) weed out the worst of the two-faced nationalists (the failed once, successful once murderer, grandson Hugh Ransom (fittingly played by Captain America, er, I mean, Chris Evans). In the end, the American landscape (the whole, crazy Knives Out scenario) is maneuvered toward a more genuine, positive, dare I say, traditional values future where immigrant, dreamer Americans (the nurse) are passed the American baton, perhaps toward a better future and perhaps the beginning of yet another cycle of Earth-ravishing, civilization-spoiling privilege.

Spoilers and symbolic speculation, notwithstanding, see this movie! Think about the subtleties and implications. I'm sure you'll find your own unique interpretation within the story.

In the end, anytime we view artwork we might just see the cheesy surface or we might delve deeper to reflect, get off our theater-seat arses and make an effort to confront corruption and make a change in ourselves and the world.

...or we might just go home and binge watch some Disney+.

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