See How They Run is a delicious whodunit.
This review of the film See How They Run does not contain spoilers.
A good murder mystery film is as classic and old as time and cinema itself. Tom George’s (This Country) latest film, working from a delightfully droll script from Mark Chappell (Flakes), is a delicious who-done-it, especially for those who like their movies old-fashioned and eclectic. An exuberant satire of Agatha Christie’s murder mysteries, See How They Run plays like a child out of wedlock homage to Wes Anderson characters.
The story takes place in 1950s London’s West End. A smash hit play, The Mousetrap, has been all the rage. And why wouldn’t it be? It’s by Ms. Agatha Christie, after all. Starring the great Richard Attenborough (Beach Rats’ Harrison Dickinson), the play is going to be made into a Hollywood feature after reaching a milestone number of shows. There is a team in town that would be behind the project. There is the director Leo Kopernick (Adrien Brody), the scribe Mervyn Cocker-Norris (David Oyelowo), and the producer Reece Shearsmith (John Woolf). All of them want to adapt The Mousetrap with their own style. Yet, none of them can come to a consensus.
Unfortunately for Leo, your typical demonstrative director is now dead. He was murdered. Even left posed on the stage on the couch with his tongue cut out. Yes, “staged” if you will. A weathered Inspector named Stoppard (Sam Rockwell, excellent here) is called to solve the case. He has not only fallen off the wagon, but he also appears to have been dragged by it for miles. Stoppard’s new partner is an eager new constable, Ms. Stalker (Saoirse Ronan, giving the film’s best performance). Her attention to detail is beyond reproach, as well as her tendency to jump to conclusions. However, the real question is whether they will find the killer before they take down any other victims.
See How They Run is a delightful murder mystery that never takes itself too seriously. Not to mention, unlike the other comedy mystery opening this week, Confess, Fletch, all of the wacky sordid characters in the Agatha Christie-inspired movie seamlessly work together. This makes for a cohesive experience in tone, story, and plot. From Ruth Wilson’s Petula Spencer and even Paul Chahidi’s absurdly funny Butler Fellowes, it’s as if Chappell rented characters straight out of the mind of Wes Anderson.
However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The real draw here are the performances from Rockwell and Ronan. They have wonderful chemistry together in an unexpected way. Typically, Rockwell’s Stoppard would mistreat the new partner forced upon him. The other cliche would be Ronan’s Stalker would be arrogant, reckless, and subordinate in their eagerness to make a name for themselves. The difference here is both allow the plot, motive, suspects, and red herrings to come to them. There is patience, even stoic quality, as they work together. There is self-containment without losing any witty dialogue, laughs, or other entertainment value.
While I thoroughly enjoyed See How They Run, the killer was evident to me, and you cannot precisely compare this murder mystery to anything Christie has written. That’s because this is beside the point. It’s all window dressing. Entertaining, with terrific performances, well-drawn characters, and eccentric storytelling that has a genuine wit.
Go run to the movie theatre to see it.
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