Movie Review: Knives Out

Knives Out Trailer

Knives Out Summary

The family of Harlan Thrombey, a wealthy mystery novelist, attends his 85th birthday party at his Massachusetts mansion. The next morning, Harlan’s housekeeper, Fran, finds him dead with his throat slit. The police believe Harlan’s death to be suicide, but private detective Benoit Blanc is anonymously paid to investigate. Blanc learns Harlan’s relationships with his various family members were strained: on the day of his death, Harlan threatened to expose his son-in-law Richard for cheating on his daughter Linda, cut off his daughter-in-law Joni’s allowance for stealing from him, fired his son Walt from his publishing company, and had an altercation with his grandson Ransom.

Unknown to Blanc, Harlan’s nurse, Marta Cabrera, accidentally mixed up his medications; she apparently overdosed him with morphine and could not find the antidote, leaving Harlan only minutes to live. Wanting to save Marta’s family from scrutiny (her mother being an undocumented immigrant), Harlan gave her instructions to create a false alibi, then slit his own throat. Harlan’s very elderly mother saw Marta carrying out his instructions, but she mistook her for Ransom. Marta cannot lie without vomiting, so she gives true but incomplete answers when questioned. She agrees to assist in Blanc’s investigation, and she conceals evidence of her actions as they search the property. When Harlan’s will is read, to everyone’s shock, Marta is the sole beneficiary. Ransom helps her escape the family’s wrath, but he manipulates her into confessing to him; he offers his help in exchange for a share of the inheritance. The other Thrombeys try to persuade Marta to renounce the inheritance; Walt threatens to expose her mother’s immigration status.

Marta receives a blackmail note with a partial photocopy of Harlan’s toxicology report. She and Ransom drive to the medical examiner’s office, but it has burned down. Marta receives an email proposing a rendezvous with the blackmailer. Blanc and the police spot them, and, after a brief car chase, Ransom is arrested; Blanc explains Harlan’s mother saw Ransom climbing down from Harlan’s room the night he died. At the rendezvous, Marta finds Fran, drugged. She performs CPR and calls an ambulance. She confesses to Blanc, though Ransom has already informed on her, and she decides to tell the family she caused Harlan’s death, which would invalidate the will under the slayer rule. At the house, she finds a copy of the full toxicology report in Fran’s cannabis stash. She gives it to Blanc without reading it herself. Reading it, Blanc sees it showed little morphine in Harlan’s system, and interrupts Marta before she can confess.

Blanc reveals his deductions: after Ransom learned Harlan was leaving everything to Marta, he swapped the contents of Harlan’s medication vials and stole the antidote so that Marta would kill Harlan and thus become ineligible to claim the inheritance. But Marta actually gave Harlan the correct medication, subconsciously recognizing it by its viscosity, and she only thought she had poisoned him after reading the label. When the death was reported a suicide, Ransom anonymously hired Blanc to expose Marta. Fran saw Ransom tampering with the crime scene and sent him the blackmail note. After he realized Marta was not responsible for Harlan’s death, but Marta still thought she was, he forwarded the note to Marta and burned down the medical examiner’s office to destroy evidence of her innocence. He overdosed Fran with morphine, intending for Marta to get caught with Fran’s corpse.

Marta tricks Ransom into confessing by lying that Fran has survived and will implicate him; then she vomits on him, revealing the lie. Enraged, he attacks her with a knife from Harlan’s collection, which turns out to be a retractable stage knife. With Ransom’s murder confession recorded and having witnessed his attempted murder of Marta, the police arrest him. Blanc tells Marta he realized early on she played a part in Harlan’s death, noting a small spot of blood on her shoe. Linda finds a note from Harlan about her husband’s adultery. As Ransom is taken into custody, Marta watches from the balcony of her mansion.

Knives Out Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Mysterious, funny and thrilling. Truly enjoyable movie for adults.

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