TIFF Review’: ‘Knives Out’ Is Sharp with Its Jokes, Twists, and Commentary

Rian Johnson returns after co-writing and directing Star Wars: The Last Jedi with a funny who done it thriller. Knives Out starts with police officers Lt. Elliott (LaKeith Stanfield), Trooper Wagner (Noah Segan), and Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) investigating what happened to wealthy author Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) who was found dead.

It’s unclear whether he killed himself or if there was foul play. They question his family members, who all recently interacted with the man at his 85th birthday party.

This family is focused on their inheritance while the detectives want to find out what happened to the patriarch

A movie’s pacing with this kind of mystery could feel long because we return to Thrombey’s birthday party multiple times. However, the editing is great and the over 2-hour movie uses its time wisely.

This ensemble is stacked with Jamie Lee Curtis playing Thrombey’s daughter Linda Drysdale. She’s smart, started her own business, and doesn’t have time for nonsense. Linda’s interactions with Joni (Toni Collette), who married into the family and isn’t self-aware at all are hilarious.

The rest of the cast is also funny with their different personalities and motivations. This family is focused on their inheritance while the detectives want to find out what happened to the patriarch.

Their dynamics with each other and the world reflect what we’re seeing on a bigger scale

Knives Out
Knives Out | Courtesy of TIFF

Their dynamics with each other and the world reflect what we’re seeing on a bigger scale, which leads to political commentary. That only makes sense when you find out how Thrombey’s empire led to his children having certain attitudes about the world.

The movie is not only funny because of the personalities, but the dialogue. Ransom Drysdale (Chris Evans) calls Benoit Blanc “CSI KFC” and there are more comments like that of characters dryly tearing each other down. Everyone becomes desperate as the investigation goes on so the dialogue only becomes more biting and fun.

Everyone in the movie seems to be on an equal playing field, which makes it even more entertaining. Characters get themselves in wild situations, especially Marta.

Ana de Armas plays the nurse who was looking after Harlan Thrombey before his death. She has one of the hardest roles in the whole film. She rises to the occasion when a scene calls for slapstick humor or being horrified.

The action in the film is hilariously realistic

Knives Out is thrilling as the mystery unfolds for the audience. That’s partially because the framing device is naturally thrilling, but the movie isn’t afraid to break free from it. The action in the film is hilariously realistic in that things play out in an way that isn’t cool like we typically see in movies.

The movie is effective by entertaining the audience and surprisingly giving a message. A huge risk when setting up a mystery like this is that the ending won’t be satisfying, or there will be plot holes. This drama won’t let audiences down after it is done examining this wealthy family under a magnifying glass.

Knives Out will be released in theaters on Nov. 27.