TIFF 2019: Praise Pours In for Rian Johnson’s ‘Knives Out’

Lakeith Stanfield

Rian Johnson‘s much anticipated “Knives Out” had its world premiere at Toronto International Film Festival to raving first reactions, describing this ensemble whodunit as a fun crowd-pleaser for the fall.

The stacked cast includes Ana de Armas (“Blade Runner 2049”), Chris Evans (“Avengers: Endgame”), Daniel Craig (“Casino Royale”), Michael Shannon (“The Shape of Water”), Jamie Lee Curtis (“Halloween”), LaKeith Stanfield (“Atlanta,” “Sorry to Bother You”) and Don Johnson (“Miami Vice”). The ensemble also includes Toni Collette (“Hereditary”), Katherine Langford (“13 Reasons Why”) and Christopher Plummer (“The Sound of Music”).

The official synopsis reads:

Acclaimed writer and director Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper, The Last Jedi) pays tribute to mystery mastermind Agatha Christie in KNIVES OUT, a fun, modern-day murder mystery where everyone is a suspect. When renowned crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is found dead at his estate just after his 85th birthday, the inquisitive and debonair Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is mysteriously enlisted to investigate.

From Harlan’s dysfunctional family to his devoted staff, Blanc sifts through a web of red herrings and self-serving lies to uncover the truth behind Harlan’s untimely death. With an all-star ensemble cast including Chris Evans, Ana De Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette, LaKeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford and Jaeden Martell, KNIVES OUT is a witty and stylish whodunit guaranteed to keep audiences guessing until the very end.

Toni Collette in “Knives Out”

Outside of his Star Wars commitments, Johnson has directed “Looper,” “The Brothers Bloom,” “Brick” and the stellar “Breaking Bad” episode, ‘Ozymandias.’ He writes his own script for “Knives Out,” which he explained at CinemaCon to be an Agatha Christie inspiration with a “Hitchcock thriller-type twist.” Those who saw the film at TIFF are relishing the director’s switch from a galaxy far away.

Peter Debruge of Variety describes most of Johnson’s films to be “undeniably clever, but distressingly serious.” With “Knives Out,” Johnson seems to be having more fun liberties with his characters and premise. Debruge writes in his review:

Twists abound in “Knives Out,” but by far the most unexpected is Johnson’s decision to treat this brainteaser as a comedy.

Here, he manages to blend the two, populating the Thrombey household with one-of-a-kind weirdos.

Attendees started tweeting their first reactions via Twitter:

“Knives Out” is produced by FilmNation Entertainment and MRC, and is distributed by Lionsgate. The film releases in theaters November 27.

What do you think of the first reactions for “Knives Out” out of TIFF? Do you think it will be the perfect crowd-pleasing Thanksgiving outing? Comment below!

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