See How They Run
We are a day away from the weekend and I thought of squeezing in another review(as usual). With that I finished watching the new English film See How They Run which was recently available on digital. Now the whodunnit genre is often regarded as a fun genre wherein the audience is often enticed into playing the guessing game. We have grown up on novels of Agatha Christie and are probably programmed in a way wherein we do put on that detective hat and try and crack the case. But herein lies the catch. The obvious should never be the solution to a case which is where most whodunnits fall flat. But every time there is a new whodunnit in town, people are excited and that is what the genre does bring to the table. So then does See How They Run manage to keep you guessing until the very end, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
See How They Run is the story of a murder investigation that is underway in a setup that includes a play being performed on a murder mystery. So inadvertently this is a mystery within a mystery, a homage to the classic murder mystery genre but with a twist. There is dollops of dark humour waiting to be discovered here. The screenplay at just over 90 minutes means that it is a crisp drama from start to finish.
Now usually in a murder mystery you will find a template wherein there is a significant amount of world building and the introduction of loads of characters. Even with the typical Agatha Christie adaptations like Death On The Nile or Murder On The Orient Express, almost the entire first half was spent in the world building before an eventual murder that would take place. But this is where this film is different.
It opens with probably the line of the decade, ” All Murder Mysteries have the same template, if you have watched one, you have watched all of them”(paraphrased). It had such a brilliant dose of meta humour to it that it had my attention while I absolutely cracked up. Soon you are briefly introduced to the characters before “the meanest one of them all” is bumped off first. And so the murder investigation begins with two detectives – one experienced and the other a rookie who would often “jump to conclusions”. Needless to say everyone is “a victim and a suspect”.
The proceedings are deliciously funny and quite engrossing and interesting. The drama almost seemed like Knives Out Directed by Wes Anderson! It had the tonality of a peppy and upbeat drama veiled in a murder investigation. So the treatment here was really refreshing. I just had one little issue – the drama at times did try to be a little smarter than it actually was which in turn did suck out a little tension from the ongoing investigation. It was a little more playful that I would have liked although the humour most definitely worked really well.
A couple of subplots did make me disconnected briefly but the events leading up to the final act were really impressive. The final act too had a great setup with all the events unfolding at the mansion of Agatha Christie which was a monumental meta reference in itself. The meta reference did not end there, it carried on with a few references from the play which was enacted in the film and that was an interesting twist to the genre. This despite the final revelation being slightly underwhelming. So overall, the screenplay accounted for a fun whodunnit which was really a refreshing one.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are conversational but filled with witty one-liners that will hold your attention throughout. The BGM sets the mood of the drama accurately. The cinematography and editing are top notch. Director Tom George does a splendid job with the ambience and humour although the murder mystery was a slight “suspect”.
The performances here are stupendous. Adrian Brody as Leo is hilarious in an extended cameo. Ruth Wilson, Reece Shearsmith, Jacob Fortune-lloy and Harris Dickenson have their moments to shine. David Oyelowo as Mervyn is first rate. Saoirse Ronan as Stalker looks pretty and manages to impress with her goofy antics. Sam Rockwell as Inspector Stoppard is brilliant and does a spectacular job in holding the proceedings together effectively.
See How They Run is almost like Knives Out Directed By Wes Anderson. In other words, it is a fun whodunnit that manages to turn the genre on its head with its dark humour, thereby making it a good watch.