Rian Johnson’s Knives Out breaks the mystery genre, then rebuilds it

Photo by Claire Folger / courtesy of TIFF

Welcome to Cheat Sheet, our breakdown-style reviews of festival films, VR previews, and other special event releases. This review comes from the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that director Rian Johnson can handle a murder-mystery. Before he entered the franchise world with Star Wars: The Last Jedi and before he was lined up to create his own Star Wars trilogy, he launched his feature-film career with the terrific 2005 neo-noir Brick, which channels the familiar rhythms and language of 1940s detective fiction into a modern California high school. Johnson’s latest film, the family ensemble comedy-mystery Knives Out, is a long way off from Brick’s cheeky genre mashup. But it acknowledges…

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