Detective directed by Rian Johnson was released in 2019. And it immediately became a bestseller thanks to an unhackneyed plot and a stellar cast of performers.
Relatives are coming to the old house for the anniversary of Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer). All of them are financially dependent on the patriarch of the family, except perhaps for their daughter Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis), who once took money from her father for start-up capital.
Harlan manages to turn almost all the guests against himself at his anniversary. He explains to his son Walt (Michael Shannon) that his work at his father’s publishing house is over. And this is at the moment when he tries to wrest his father’s consent to the film adaptation of the book, and puts the question of his real power in the publishing house point-blank. Linda’s husband Richard (Don Johnson) is convicted of treason and receives an ultimatum – either he confesses to his wife, or his father intervenes.
The widow of Joni’s son is issued the last check, since Harlan caught her in fraud – she received double amounts in the form of payment for the education of her granddaughter, and appropriated about 400 thousand. During the argument, the grandfather angrily informs his grandson Ransome (Chris Evans) that he will not receive anything from the will. No one has an alibi, but most have a motive for murder. In addition to relatives, the housekeeper Fran is present, as well as Marta Cabrera (Ana De Armas).
In the morning, the housekeeper finds the owner of the house with his throat cut. An investigation begins, which is joined by an eccentric private detective (Daniel Craig), who was hired by someone anonymously.
Martha mixed up the medicine and injected the 85-year-old ward with a lethal dose of morphine, while the antidote disappeared from the bag. Harlan explains to the nurse the plan she must follow in order to avoid the arrest and, as a result, the deportation of her mother. And cuts his own throat. The detective invites the nurse to participate in the investigation, which gives her the opportunity to be aware of the investigation and even interfere with it.
At the announcement of the will, it turns out that the writer bequeathed everything to his companion. The heirs are furious. All assurances that the nurse is a family member for them are forgotten. Relatives deceived in expectations are not shy in expressions.
Meg, Joni’s daughter, is friends with Martha, and even supports her grandfather’s decision, but exactly until the moment when her mother explains to her on her fingers that she will have to forget about expensive school. Meg teams up with the others and reveals that her friend is afraid for her mother, who may be deported.
Ransome takes Martha under his wing. Fishes out the truth, and under the pretext of help plays his own game. The nurse must be recognized as a murderer and thereby lose the right to the inheritance. And Harlan’s suicide appears in a new light.
Ransome changed the contents of the drug vials and stole the antidote. The housekeeper sees him and begins to blackmail the young man. He realizes that the lethal dose has not been administered, and changes strategy on the go. He sets fire to the medical examiner’s building to destroy the test results, forwards Fran’s note to Marta, arrives early for the meeting, and kills Fran by setting a trap for the nurse.
When the nurse and the detective trick Ransome into confessing, he grabs a knife from the installation and plunges it into Martha. But it turns out that the knife is fake with a retractable blade.
The meaning of the film
The absurd old man deprives the heirs of money, which simply speeds up the usual order of things – the first generation earns capital, and the third one returns to its previous state. Because the only thing it can do is squander the rest of its capital. Expensive habits and the announcement of a house bought from a Pakistani nouveau riche as a family nest do not yet make the owners of new money an aristocracy.
A modest immigrant behaves with more dignity than the newly minted bourgeois. And as a result, he gets everything, including power over the family.
Characteristics of heroes
- Benoit Blanc is an eccentric private detective who successfully solves complex cases;
- Harlan Thrombey is a successful mystery writer and the head of a large family. Sarcastic, observant, fond of riddles;
- His nurse, nurse and just a friend of Marta Cabrera, who has an unusual quality – when she tries to lie, she feels sick;
- Daughter Linda, a stylish middle-aged lady, domineering and determined;
- Her husband Richard, completely dependent on his wife;
- The offspring of Linda and Richard Ransome, the black sheep of the family. Brings the family to white heat with open contempt and rudeness;
- Writer’s son Walt, who runs a publishing house that is kept afloat by Thrombey’s writings;
- His wife Donna and teenage son, concerned about the problem of illegal migration;
- Sister-in-law and widow Joni with daughter Meg, completely dependent on Harlan’s money;
- Harlan’s mother Wanetta, who is not taken seriously due to her advanced age;
- Two policemen and a housekeeper.
At first glance, the classics of the genre according to Christie – a closed space, murder, everything is under suspicion. And a talented detective, conducting an investigation in parallel with the police. However, Lady Agatha was not inclined to humor, and the film, on the contrary, is full of irony.
A clear nod to Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters is Martha’s invitation to be Benoit’s eyes and ears, he even asks, “What do you say, Watson?”
Blanc speaks of his methods of investigation as moving along the rainbow of gravity. Emotionless analysis of the facts, which leads to a solution at the end of the path. When referring to the novel of the same name, Blanc does not hint at the content, especially since he has not read the novel. Rather, we are talking about its author Pynchon, the most mysterious American writer, as a projection on Harlan, who loves practical jokes and riddles.
The viewer observes the circumstances of the death of the elder Thrombey almost at the beginning of the movie, which does not spoil the plot at all. Many detective series put the crime at the beginning of the series, and only then comes the inquiry. For example, series about Colombo and Mr. Monk. And the mention of Blanc’s case with the tennis champion, which was revealed by Blanc, is reminiscent of the Hitchcock film, where the star tennis player was the main villain. And from the beginning, the viewer knew the perpetrator, that is, a similar sequence of events.
At the end, Marta tells the detective: “This family. I have to take care of them, right?” He replies that it would not be worth it, but she will listen to her heart. The frame changes, the girl approaches the portrait of Thrombey Sr. and peers into the image. Her expression becomes determined, her lips tighten, and when she stands on the balcony, her face is rather stern. And a mug in his hands with the inscription “My home. My rules. My coffee.” close-up looks like a symbol of Martha’s determination to follow the plans of the patriarch in relation to the family.
The film is beautiful – a strong plot, excellent actors. If some points seem incomprehensible, you should carefully look at the picture again. It is filmed with respect for the viewer and with a thorough study of all the little things. And since the film has collected many awards and nominations, there is hope that this is the first sign in a series of such good films.