Director: Tom George
Writer: Mark Chappell
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Saoirse Ronan, Adrien Brody, Ruth Wilson, Reece Shearsmith, Harris Dickinson, David Oyelowo
The whodunit genre is going through a bit of a renaissance in recent years, with the fun Kenneth Branagh Poirot films and the excellent Knives Out (which is just about to get a sequel). See How They Run, which is directed by Tom George and written by Mark Chappell, is a really funny and self-aware love letter to the genre.
Adrien Brody stars as American director Leo Köpernick, who opens the film as a narrator dissecting and criticising the genre, while also revealing that he has been murdered. It’s 1953 and Köpernick was in London to start work on directing an adaptation of Agatha Christie’s play, The Mousetrap. Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) is forcibly teamed up with Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan) to investigate the murder and it seems like everyone involved with the adaptation is a suspect.
While the film is very metareferential, it still really works as a murder mystery. Enough of the clues are there that you feel like it’s possible to figure it out, and the surprise ending is great. It’ll keep you guessing right up to the end, and the finale plays out excellently, calling back to an argument that Köpernick and the script writer Mervyn Cocker-Norris (David Oyelowo) had earlier in the film. It’s also really funny, with plenty of laugh-out-loud jokes throughout the short run time.
Sam Rockwell is excellent as Inspector Stoppard, a tired man who drinks too much, and seems to be fed up with the job and life in general. He’s the opposite of Constable Stalker, who’s learning on the job with eager enthusiasm, writing everything down in her notebook in case it’s important later. Saoirse Ronan is amazing in the role and is one of the funniest things about it. Both characters are brilliant, and their clashing personalities makes them that much more endearing.
The whole story revolves around the Agatha Christie play The Mousetrap which in the film has just had its one hundredth performance. In real life, the play has been ongoing for seventy years, and is the West End’s longest running show heading towards twenty-nine thousand performances. The Mousetrap always ends with a request not to reveal the murderer to anyone, and this is how See How They Run begins (and ends), as the opening scene shows the hundredth show ending. There are tons of references to Christie’s play throughout the story, with the victim attempting to direct a movie adaptation, and his death seeming to be linked to the play. Even the title, See How They Run, is a reference to it. The film is a love letter to Christie, her play, and the genre as a whole. While having seen The Mousetrap is not essential, it definitely gives another layer to the film and makes the whole thing that much better.
This is a solid addition to the whodunit genre. While it starts with a narration that lambasts the genre as being stale and formulaic, it also shows that the classic formula still works. It’s light-hearted fun and a real joy to watch.
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This is booked at our local theatre for next weekend. It looked interesting enough from the cast, and just saw the trailer here. Based on your review, it sounds like we should give this a view. Rockwell and Ronan look like a great team here.
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Thank you. Hope you enjoy it if you get to see it. I think it’s a really fun film.
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