(Photo from IMDb)
When asked for the best film to watch at a Thanksgiving family reunion, many would respond with something family-friendly, bright, and simple. However, director Rian Johnson’s 2019 film “Knives Out” provides the perfect family-oriented viewing experience. This film is a meticulous murder mystery that follows a group of family members turned suspects after their patriarch, the famed mystery writer Harlan Thrombey, is found dead within the family home.
The film’s star-studded cast includes Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, and Jamie Lee Curtis. It is also designed stylistically with so much precision that it reflects an Agatha Christie novel or Clue game session come to life. Filled with memorable characters and clever twists, “Knives Out” provides a thrilling “whodunnit” experience that viewers will try to decipher before the film reaches its explosive finale.
Bubbling under the surface of this mystery is a highly relatable family film, filled with characters sharing gossip, arguing over conflicting political views, embarrassing others in front of guests, having arguments, and presenting awkwardly comedic commentary. The cloudy autumn setting makes the film even more Thanksgiving-adjacent.
“Knives Out” shows an understanding of stressful family dynamics during the holiday season with colorful characters that resemble real tension-inducing family members. This film also uses the concept of dramatic irony effectively, constantly showing the relatives misleading each other with lies and false alibis to achieve their own goals.
While the film is riddled with conflict, it also displays elements of camaraderie through family uniting, looking past conflicting views and emotional hang-ups. Eventually, they aim to properly solve the death of their patriarch in order to secure the family legacy for their personal gains.
Thrombey states, “I’d like to fix some of this before I go. Close the book with a flourish,” only a quarter through the unraveling of the mystery. The line portrays the multilayered themes that are covered within the film, including the desire to leave a legacy for one’s family.
Despite nearly every character possessing selfish personal desires, the household connects to chase Thrombey’s legacy. However, this is an impossible feat which constantly haunts the group and is symbolized in the family home.
The irony is that most of the film’s characters are desperate for the fortune yet are simultaneously irritated by the idea of living up to their patriarch’s legacy. The family eventually tries to embrace everything that Thrombey taught them to reach success. In the process, they gain a true understanding of one another’s qualms and regrets.
The concept of familial conflict is pushed to the highest extreme within “Knives Out,” yet is a common issue for families worldwide, albeit at lower levels. Viewing the film with relatives on Thanksgiving night provides a rare opportunity to finally discuss any underlying issues that your own family may face. The film also offers a chance to fix past mistakes by finally showing appreciation for the quirks of each loved one.
While “Knives Out” is an exciting edge-of-the seat experience as its mystery unravels, the film also aims to help teach family members to be kinder towards one another. Most importantly, it warns against relatives judging each other by only flaws or accomplishments. This film captures a meaningful — yet entertaining — experience and deserves five crabs.