Mar 23, 2020

"Knives Out": Stylish Whodunit with a Gay Connection

I have seen Knives Out (2019), a classic whodunit, as a change of pace from the pandemic post-Apocalyptic movies we've been watching.

Ultra-famous, fabulously wealthy mystery writer Harlan Thromboy (Christopher Plummer) has just died.  By suicide -- he slit his own throat shortly after his 85 birthday party. 

The grieving relatives convene in his eccentric Addams Family-style mansion to be interviewed by police detectives Elliot and Wagner (Lakeith Stanfield, Noah Segan), and by private investigator Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig with a ludicrous Southern accent), who has been hired anonymously.

Everyone lies about what happened last night.  Apparently Harlan was cleaning house:

1. His son-in-law Richard (Don Johnson),who has never worked, is having an affair.  If his wife Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis) finds out, she will cut him off.  Last night Harlan threatened "You tell her, or I will."

2. Harlan has been sending his widowed daughter-in-law Joni (Toni Collette) $100,000 every year to pay for his grandaughter's Ivy League tuition, but Joni has been double-dipping, getting the money sent directly to the school and to her personal account.  He cut her off.

3. Harlan's son Walt (Michael Shannon, left) has been running the publishing company.  Harlan fired him.

4. He had an unspecified shouting-match with his grandson Hugh (Chris Evans, top photo).

5. The only one who had a pleasant evening was Harlan's nurse, Maria (Ana de Armas).  After the party she took him upstairs, gave him his medication, played a game of backgammon, and went home.

They all have a motive for murder. But he committed suicide, right?  But then, why did someone hire a private detective?

At the reading of the will, Maria gets the entire fortune: book rights, house, assets, everything.  Then the knives come out.

Only Maria knows what really happened:  she accidentally switched the medicines, injecting him with a lethal overdose of morphine.  Since she was a close friend, Harlan decided to commit suicide so she wouldn't be implicated in his death.

Except -- someone switched the vials, so Maria actually injected him with the correct medication.  Harlan only thought that he was dying.

Someone planned the perfect murder,

Gay characters:  None specified.  I thought the fey grandson Jason (Jaeden Martell) would be gay (apparently he is in real life), but he's actually a straight alt-right perv.

Beefcake:  Everyone is fully clothed throughout.

Then what is the gay connection?

I figured from the beginning that Maria would fall in love with Hugh.  A male family member, unattached, about her age, and looking down with bemused detachment at his family's money-grubbing dementia.

When they started hanging out together, I was sure that they would solve the mystery, vanquish the evil family members, and set up housekeeping in the great Gothic mansion..  But no shipping occurred.  Not a speck of heterosexual romance between them, or between anyone else. That is extremely rare in American movies.

Freedom from the heterosexist "Girl of His Dreams" conclusion!  Who cares if there is any beefcake?

1 comment:

  1. I've actually watched the movie a couple weeks ago and, I kinda liked it. It made sense, I'm not complaining about the ending and the big reveal. It's an all-star cast, that's for sure.


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