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See How They Run (Film Review)

3 min read

It would appear that the whodunnit has made a bit comeback in recent years. Perhaps bolstered by Sir 's all-star splashy take on Murder on the Orient Express, and kept alive by smash hits like Knives Out, we're now finding the crime genre getting new life thanks to new deaths. Not only is post-modern horror-whodunnit Bodies Bodies Bodies on the horizon but now this very British comes to us.

Set around the playhouse of the West End's The Mousetrap detective Stoppard () and Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan) must find out who killed a famous American film director who planned to adapt the play into a film.

Whodunnits are by their nature hard to discuss because they hinge on hidden motives and agendas. But the film to which owes its biggest debt is clearly Knives Out. Both delight in the genre and in subverting expectations. This is a film that enjoys the rules and trappings of the world of murder mysteries and references them freely, it's also clearly in awe of Christie herself and the massive success of The Mousetrap (now in it's 70th year and showing no signs of slowing down). 

Director clearly learned a thing or two from directing belly-achingly funny Brit-com , and has style to spare. He employs multiple split screens to let us know what characters are seeing and doing and to amp up visual gags. He knows how to frame a sight gag, from a prat fall, to an elaborate almost Scooby-Doo style opening and closing of doors. He also knows when to leave the splashy camera stuff behind and let the razor sharp script by Mark Chappell do the heavy lifting.

The mystery itself is never very interesting, it's a coat rack onto which we hang out characters and Chappell knows this, from a knowing voiceover from our murder victim to the motives each character has, this is a film that clearly loves the 50s era of the theatre but also has a slight joy at ribbing the pompous attitude of theatre being superior. Rockwell and Ronan banter perfectly, their vet and rookie schtick feels like both loving homage and subversion of the usual, bolstered by both being seasoned pros. A recurrent gag about jumping to conclusions allows Rockwell to deadpan at his strongest and Ronan to channel her inner Katharine Hepburn to great success.

The supporting players are all well done a who's who of possible killers – David Oyelowo, Reece Shearsmith and Harris Dickson playing an almost Alan Bennett take on Lord Attenborough get the lion's share of great moments.

For anyone who loves the genre of crime caper and has a love of theatre also, this is a surprise hit. Offering deliciously macabre jokes, a good splash of commentary, and enough twists and turns to keep even the most ardent fan guessing.

This might be the biggest surprise treat of the year. But let's not jump to conclusions.

See How They Run is in cinemas from September 9th