Knives Out

  (Redirected from Knives Out (film))

Knives Out is a 2019 American mystery film written, produced, and directed by Rian Johnson. A modern whodunit, the film follows a family gathering gone awry, after the family patriarch's death leads a master detective to investigate. The film features an ensemble cast, including Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, and Christopher Plummer.

Knives Out
Knives Out poster.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRian Johnson
Produced by
Written byRian Johnson
Starring
Music byNathan Johnson[1]
CinematographySteve Yedlin
Edited byBob Ducsay
Production
companies
Distributed byLionsgate
Release date
  • September 7, 2019 (2019-09-07) (TIFF)
  • November 27, 2019 (2019-11-27) (United States)
Running time
130 minutes[3]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$40 million[4]
Box office$302.9 million[5][6]

Knives Out had its world premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2019, and was theatrically released in the United States on November 27, 2019, by Lionsgate. The film received universal critical acclaim, particularly for its screenplay, direction, humor, plot, entertainment value, and acting, and grossed $302 million worldwide against a $40 million budget. At the 77th Golden Globe Awards, the film received three nominations in the Musical or Comedy category: Best Motion Picture, Best Actor for Craig, and Best Actress for de Armas. It also received Best Original Screenplay nominations at the 73rd British Academy Film Awards and 92nd Academy Awards. It was also selected by the American Film Institute and the National Board of Review as one of the top ten films of 2019.

Lionsgate announced in February 2020 that a sequel was in the works, with the film possibly becoming a franchise centered on Daniel Craig's character.[7]

PlotEdit

Wealthy crime novelist Harlan Thrombey invites his family to his Massachusetts mansion for his 85th birthday party. The next morning, Harlan's housekeeper Fran finds him dead, with his throat slit. The police are convinced that Harlan's death is a suicide, but an anonymous party pays private detective Benoit Blanc to investigate.

Blanc learns that Harlan's relationships with his family had become strained: he had threatened to expose his son-in-law Richard for cheating on his wife Linda, cut off his daughter-in-law Joni's allowance for stealing from him, fired his younger son Walt from his publishing company, and had an altercation with his grandson Ransom.

Unknown to Blanc, after the party, Harlan's nurse, Marta Cabrera, accidentally administered him an overdose of morphine instead of his usual medication and could not find the antidote, leaving Harlan minutes to live. To protect Marta, Harlan gave her instructions to create a false alibi to avoid suspicion over his death; he then slit his own throat. Marta carried out Harlan's instructions, but Harlan's elderly mother saw her and mistook her for Ransom.

Marta cannot lie without vomiting, so she gives true but incomplete answers when Blanc questions her. Blanc asks her to assist his investigation. As they search the property, Marta attempts to conceal evidence.

Harlan's will is read: he left everything to Marta, to her astonishment as well as the family's. They turn on her, but Ransom helps her escape. Ransom persuades Marta to confess to him and offers to help her in exchange for his share of the inheritance. The other Thrombeys try to persuade Marta to renounce her inheritance; Walt threatens to expose her mother as an undocumented immigrant.

Marta receives an anonymous blackmail note with a partial photocopy of Harlan's toxicology report. She and Ransom drive to the medical examiner's office, but it has been destroyed in a fire. Marta receives an anonymous email with a time and address to meet the blackmailer. Blanc and the police, also investigating the destroyed medical examiner's office, spot Marta and Ransom. After a brief car chase, the police arrest Ransom; Blanc explains to Marta that Harlan's mother saw Ransom climbing down from Harlan's room on the night of his death.

Marta goes to the address in the email and discovers Fran drugged, along with her missing medical case. Marta hesitates, realizing that Fran can link her to the crime, but performs CPR on Fran and calls 911. Marta confesses to Blanc, but Ransom has already informed on her. At the house, Marta finds a copy of the full toxicology report hidden in Fran's cannabis stash. Marta is about to confess to the family that she caused Harlan's death, but Blanc interrupts her after reading the report.

Blanc reveals his deductions to Marta, Ransom, and the police: After Ransom learned at the party that Harlan was leaving everything to Marta, he swapped the contents of Marta's medication vials and stole the antidote so she would kill Harlan with an overdose of morphine, making her ineligible to claim the inheritance by the slayer rule. However, Marta actually administered the correct medicine without reading the labels, recognizing it by the weight and viscosity of the fluid, and is therefore innocent of Harlan's death. After the death was reported as a suicide, Ransom anonymously hired Blanc to discover Marta's guilt. Fran later saw Ransom stealing Marta's medical case to hide the fact that the contents of the vials had been switched, and sent him the blackmail note. Realizing that Marta had unknowingly given Harlan the correct medication, Ransom forwarded the blackmail note to Marta. He burned down the medical examiner's office to destroy evidence of Marta's innocence. Finally, he drugged Fran with an overdose of morphine and emailed her location to Marta, planning to frame Marta for Fran's murder.

Marta tricks Ransom into confessing by lying that Fran has survived and will implicate him; after he confesses and vows revenge, she vomits on him, revealing the lie. Enraged, he attacks her with a knife but discovers it is a retractable stage knife. The police have recorded Ransom's confession, and he is taken into custody as Marta watches from what is now her mansion.

CastEdit

  • Daniel Craig as Benoit Blanc: a private detective called upon to investigate Harlan's murder
  • Chris Evans as Hugh Ransom Drysdale: Harlan's grandson, Linda and Richard's son, and a spoiled playboy who is hated by his own family
  • Ana de Armas as Marta Cabrera: Harlan's nurse and caretaker who had a close relationship with him
  • Jamie Lee Curtis as Linda Drysdale: Harlan's eldest daughter and Richard's wife. She is a real estate mogul who runs her own company with her husband's support
  • Michael Shannon as Walter "Walt" Thrombey: Harlan's youngest son, Donna's husband, and the CEO of his father's publishing company
  • Don Johnson as Richard Drysdale: Harlan's son-in-law and Linda's husband, who helps run his wife's company
  • Toni Collette as Joni Thrombey: a lifestyle guru and influencer and the widow of Harlan's deceased son, Neil
  • Lakeith Stanfield as Detective Lieutenant Elliot: a local detective involved in the investigation
  • Katherine Langford as Megan "Meg" Thrombey: Harlan's granddaughter, Joni and Neil's daughter, who studies at a prestigious liberal arts college
  • Jaeden Martell as Jacob Thrombey: Harlan's grandson, Walt and Donna's son, who holds alt-right views and is always on his phone
  • Frank Oz as Alan Stevens: Harlan's lawyer
  • Riki Lindhome as Donna Thrombey: Harlan's daughter-in-law and Walt's wife
  • Edi Patterson as Fran: Harlan's housekeeper, who discovers his body
  • K Callan as Wanetta "Great Nana" Thrombey: Harlan's elderly mother
  • Noah Segan as Trooper Wagner: a police officer involved with the investigation, and a fan of Harlan's books
  • Christopher Plummer as Harlan Thrombey: a wealthy mystery novelist who invites his family to his 85th birthday party and is later found dead. He has three children — Linda, Walt and deceased Neil
  • M. Emmet Walsh as Mr. Proofroc, the groundskeeper
  • Marlene Forte as Mrs. Cabrera: Marta's mother
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Detective Hardrock (voice cameo)

ProductionEdit

 
Several scenes are set in Maynard, Massachusetts. The car chase scene goes through the Assabet Woolen Mill (pictured), now known as Clock Tower Place.

After making the 2005 film Brick, writer and director Rian Johnson came up with the basic concept for Knives Out.[8] In June 2010, he expressed interest in making an Agatha Christie-inspired murder mystery film. He told The Independent that he wanted to make the film after finishing Looper (2012).[9] However, Johnson's next film project became Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017).[10] Johnson spent seven months writing the script after finishing his press tour for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.[11]

In developing the film, Johnson cited several classic mystery thrillers and mystery comedies as influences, including The Last of Sheila, Murder on the Orient Express, Something's Afoot, Murder by Death, Death on the Nile, The Private Eyes, The Mirror Crack'd, Evil Under the Sun, Deathtrap, Clue, and Gosford Park.[12] The 1972 version of Sleuth, a favorite "whodunit adjacent" of Johnson's, was also an inspiration, particularly for the setting and set design, including the automata, Jolly Jack the Sailor.[13][14][15] The title was taken from the 2001 Radiohead song "Knives Out"; Johnson, a Radiohead fan, said: "Obviously, the movie has nothing to do with the song ... That turn of phrase has always stuck in my head. And it just seemed like a great title for a murder mystery."[16] The name Harlan Thrombey is taken from a 1981 Choose Your Own Adventure whodunit, Who Killed Harlowe Thrombey?[17]

Knives Out was announced in September 2018, with Daniel Craig starring. It was sold to distributors during the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.[18] In October 2018, Chris Evans, Lakeith Stanfield, Michael Shannon, Ana de Armas, Don Johnson, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Toni Collette joined the cast.[19][20][21][22][23][24][25] In November 2018, Christopher Plummer, Jaeden Martell, Katherine Langford, Riki Lindhome, Edi Patterson, and Raúl Castillo joined the cast.[26][27][28] Frequent Johnson collaborator Noah Segan was announced as being in the film in December.[29][30] In March 2019, Frank Oz, who previously worked with Johnson in The Last Jedi, revealed that he would be appearing in a small role.[31] M. Emmet Walsh was cast in the film to replace Ricky Jay, who had died during production.[32]

Principal photography began on October 30, 2018, in Boston, Massachusetts and wrapped on December 20, 2018.[33][34][35] Filming locations included Easton, Marlborough, Massachusetts, Natick, Wellesley, Maynard, Massachusetts, Waltham, and Medfield.[36][37][38][39][40] The exteriors of the house were filmed at a mansion located in Natick, about 17 miles west of Boston.[41] The Ames Mansion in Borderland State Park, Massachusetts, was used for many interior shots.[42][41]

Nathan Johnson composed the film score. He previously worked with director Rian Johnson, who is his cousin, on Brick and Looper. The soundtrack was released on November 27, 2019, coinciding with the film's release, by Cut Narrative Records.[43]

ReleaseEdit

Knives Out had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2019.[44] It was theatrically released on November 27, 2019, by Lionsgate.[45] Director Rian Johnson released an "in-theater" audio commentary for those watching the film a second time.[46]

Home mediaEdit

Knives Out was released on Digital HD on February 7, 2020 and will be released on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K on February 25.[47]

ReceptionEdit

Box officeEdit

As of February 17, 2020, Knives Out has grossed $162.2 million in the United States and Canada, and $140.8 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $302.9 million.[5][6]

In the United States and Canada, the film was released alongside Queen & Slim, and was initially projected to gross $22–25 million from 3,391 theaters over its five-day opening weekend.[48] The film held advance screenings on November 22 and 23, making $2 million from 936 theaters.[49] It then made $8.5 million (including the $2 million from the screenings and $1.7 million from Tuesday night previews) and $6.8 million on Thanksgiving Day, increasing estimates to $44 million. It went on to gross $27.2 million in its opening weekend (a five-day total of $41.7 million), finishing second behind Frozen II.[50] In its second and third weekends the film made $14.2 million and $9.3 million, remaining in second then finishing third.[51][52] The film made $6.5 million in its fourth weekend and then $9.7 million in its fifth (and a total of $16.6 million over the five-day Christmas frame).[53][54]

Critical responseEdit

On the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 97% based on 420 reviews, with an average rating of 8.3/10. The website's critics' consensus reads: "Knives Out sharpens old murder-mystery tropes with a keenly assembled suspense outing that makes brilliant use of writer-director Rian Johnson's stellar ensemble."[55] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 82 out of 100, based on reviews from 52 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[56] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an average 4.5 out of 5 stars, with 67% saying they would definitely recommend it.[50]

David Rooney, writing for The Hollywood Reporter, described the film as an "ingeniously plotted, tremendously entertaining and deviously irreverent crowd-pleaser" and "a treat from start to finish," praising the film's script, the throwbacks to the murder mysteries of the 1970s, and the actors' performances.[57] Dana Stevens of Slate wrote "Knives Out knows exactly what kind of movie it is: a sendup of twisty murder mysteries with all-star ensemble casts that also loves and respects that silly tradition."[58] For The A.V. Club, A. A. Dowd called the film "madly entertaining" and "an ingenious sleight-of-hand crowdpleaser".[59] David Ehrlich of IndieWire gave the film an A−, writing "Johnson has devised a murder-mystery that's eager to defy your expectations, but unwilling to betray your trust. The film may be more smart than stylish, and it may opt for a reasonable outcome over an overwhelmingly shocking one, but Knives Out doesn't let the element of surprise ruin a good story."[60] David Sims of The Atlantic wrote that Johnson "turned the whodunit on its head".[61] Dani di Placido of Forbes wrote that Johnson "finds a way to revitalise the concept" and "makes murder mystery great again".[62]

It was chosen by the American Film Institute, the National Board of Review, and Time magazine[63] as one of the top ten films of 2019 in each respective list.[64] Director Edgar Wright also stated that Knives Out was his favorite film of the year and that it is "fiendishly plotted".[65]

AccoladesEdit

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result
AACTA Awards[66] January 3, 2020 Best International Supporting Actress Toni Collette Nominated
Academy Awards February 9, 2020 Best Original Screenplay Rian Johnson Nominated
American Cinema Editors[67] January 17, 2020 Best Edited Feature Film – Comedy or Musical Bob Ducsay Nominated
American Film Institute[68] January 3, 2020 Top Ten Films of the Year Knives Out Won
Art Directors Guild Awards[69] February 1, 2020 Best Contemporary Film David Crank Nominated
British Academy Film Awards[70] February 2, 2020 Best Original Screenplay Rian Johnson Nominated
Casting Society of America[71] January 30, 2020 Feature Big Budget – Comedy Mary Vernieu, Angela Peri (Location Casting) and Brett Howe (Associate) Won
Costume Designers Guild Awards[72] January 28, 2020 Excellence in Contemporary Film Jenny Eagan Won
Critics' Choice Movie Awards January 12, 2020 Best Acting Ensemble Knives Out Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Rian Johnson Nominated
Best Comedy Knives Out Nominated
Georgia Film Critics Association[73] January 10, 2020 Best Original Screenplay Rian Johnson Nominated
Gold Derby Awards[74] February 4, 2020 Best Picture Knives Out Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Rian Johnson Nominated
Best Production Design David Crank and David Schlesinger Nominated
Best Ensemble Knives Out Nominated
Golden Globe Awards[75] January 5, 2020 Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Nominated
Best Actor – Musical or Comedy Daniel Craig Nominated
Best Actress – Musical or Comedy Ana de Armas Nominated
Hollywood Critics Association Awards[76] January 9, 2020 Best Cast Knives Out Won
Best Original Screenplay Rian Johnson Nominated
National Board of Review[77] January 8, 2020 Top Ten Films Knives Out Won
Best Ensemble Won
Producers Guild of America Awards[78] January 18, 2020 Best Theatrical Motion Picture Nominated
Satellite Awards[79] December 19, 2019 Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Nominated
Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Daniel Craig Nominated
Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Ana de Armas Nominated
Best Cast – Motion Picture Knives Out Won
Writers Guild of America Awards[80] February 1, 2020 Best Original Screenplay Rian Johnson Nominated

SequelEdit

Before the release of Knives Out, Johnson said he would like to create sequels with Benoit Blanc investigating further mysteries, and already had an idea for a new film.[81] In January 2020, Johnson confirmed that he was writing a sequel, intended to focus on Blanc investigating a new mystery. Craig is expected to reprise his role, and acknowledged interest in the project.[82] On February 6, 2020, Lionsgate officially announced that a sequel was greenlit and under development.[7]

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