Knives Out Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Taunting Detective: Breaking The Cliche In Knives Out (2019): Plot Summary, Content, Explanation Of The Ending, The Meaning Of The Film, Similar Tapes.

Country: USA

Genre: detective, comedy, drama, crime

Year of production: 2019

Directed by: Rian Johnson

Actors: Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Chris Evans

tagline: “Everyone has their own motive”

Awards and nominations: In 2020, the film received 3 Golden Globe nominations

The detective is no longer a favorite of the film industry, but from time to time there are outstanding examples of the genre. We can say that the plot of the film “Get Knives” (Knives Out), gloomy and lamp at the same time, became a breath of fresh air. The detective-ironic story pleases with its romantic-old-fashioned flair and makes you think about the important social problems raised in it.

What is the movie about?

Brief description of the content of the film “Knives Out”. The famous creator of detectives Harlan Thrombey is going to celebrate his 85th birthday with his family. However, the housekeeper Fran soon finds an old man with his throat slit. According to the police, old Harlan killed himself, but someone thinks otherwise – and hires a private detective, Benoit Blanc.

Daniel CraigDaniel Craig played the role of Benoit Blanc. Frame from the film.

The detective begins an investigation and soon finds out that the old man did not get along too well with his relatives. So, everyone had a motive to deal with him. In addition, shortly before his death, Harlan had a very tense conversation with his son-in-law Richard, with his daughter Linda, daughter-in-law Joni, son Walt and grandson Ransome. He convicted the first of treason, the second – of stealing money. He cut his daughter-in-law’s allowance, removed his son from the publishing business, and threw his grandson out of his will altogether.

On the evening after the celebration, old Thrombey invited nurse Martha Cabrera, the daughter of an illegal migrant, to whom, it seems, he had much warmer feelings than to relatives. A girl accidentally injects her employer and friend with an overdose of morphine. There is no antidote in the house and Harlan, realizing that he does not have long to live and wanting to save Martha and her mother from problems, does not allow a doctor to be called and tells the girl how to create a false alibi. After that, he cuts his own throat.

The girl has an amazing feature: when she tells a lie, she is very sick. She soon meets with Detective Blanc and, at his request, helps him with the investigation. A little later, the will of the old man is announced. To the surprise of all Thrombies, Harlan bequeathed his entire huge inheritance to Martha.

After that, Trombey dances around Martha begin: someone is trying to buy her, someone is intimidating, and Ransom, wanting to use the girl for his own purposes, begins a dangerous adventure. Meeting again with Detective Blanc, she tells him that she is ready to confess to the family in the murder of old Thrombey by negligence, but the detective asks her not to rush.

Toward the end of Knives Out, he introduces the participants in the case to his preliminary findings. In his opinion, Harlan had a meeting with Ransom and the old man notified his grandson that he would give the entire fortune to Martha. Angry, he decided to take revenge. By changing the contents of the drug vials, he stole the antidote. In this way, he wanted to make Martha not just an “unworthy heir”, but a murderer.

However, the nurse recognized the right medicine and gave it to Harlan. However, after reading the labels, she decided that she was the cause of his death.

When the police did not find any crime in Thrombey’s house, Ransome anonymously hired Detective Blank: he wanted him to expose Martha. But Blank exposes Ransome. Pressed against the wall, he makes a confession and then lashes out at Martha in a rage, knife in hand. He does not know that this knife is a fake one … He is arrested, and Marta asks the detective what, in his opinion, she should do with the inheritance. He replies that she should listen to her heart.

Ending explanation Knives Out

The explanation for the ending is as follows. In the finale, Martha does what Harlan would probably do – exposes Richard’s infidelity. She observes the members of a large but unfriendly family from the balcony of a huge mansion. At the same time, the girl holds a mug in her hand with the inscription “My home. My rules. My coffee.”

The meaning of the ending of the film “Knives Out” is that Martha nevertheless became the heiress and taught a lesson to those who, for the purpose of profit, tried to use her for their own purposes.

Who is the killer?

In the movie “Knives Out” in fact there is no killer: the old man committed suicide. The tragedy of the situation lies in the fact that in reality a lethal dose of morphine was not administered and he should not have taken his own life.

However, some viewers in their analysis express the opinion that Ransom was the killer after all. It is difficult to agree with this, but one cannot but admit that he really became a catalyst for tragic events.

The meaning of the film Knives Out

To understand the essence of the film “Knives Out”, you need to understand: this is not exactly a detective story, although the features of a classic detective story are present here. The meaning of the whole action lies in the actions of the detective – in how the characters are revealed in the course of the investigation, as well as in what all this leads to.

How is the picture arranged? In the first act (according to the classics), we are introduced to the suspects and indicate that each of them had a motive to commit a crime. We are then told that the murder was by pure chance committed by a nurse, Marta, who had no motive whatsoever. On the contrary, Harlan’s death becomes both grief for her (a close friend died) and a problem: the family, illegally residing in the United States, now has nowhere to take money from.

Ana de ArmasDaniel Craig as Benoit, Ana de Armas as Martha. Frame from the film.

That is, at first we guessed who killed, then at the junction of the conditional first and second acts, we were told the name of the killer. We were then shown that even though Martha had indeed committed an unintentional murder, Harlan had cut his own throat after all. And now the viewer is offered to watch not how the detective calculates the killer, but how the unwitting criminal tries to evade responsibility – and worry about her.

Why does Rian Johnson do this? Because the detective line doesn’t matter to him. Here it is appropriate to recall the card with the mug “My house. My rules. My coffee”: its meaning is that the director reminds the viewer: “This is my film, and I do what I want.” He deliberately breaks the detective genre and laughs at all its clichés. Only in this way, by shifting the viewer’s attention from the questions familiar to the genre, can you convey to him the idea that he wants.

The basis of the plot and the structure of the film “Knives Out” is a conflict: the director shoots his film in a popular genre, as if integrating into an already ongoing game. Then he starts his own game, fundamentally different. His protagonist is not a detective. We are really forced to worry about the criminal and root for him to get out of this situation.

Marta is the first to find herself in a situation of total injustice. Harlan’s death means the same to her as an exclusion from the will for members of the Thrombey family. Moreover, she worked long and hard to get the money she was paid. The members of the Thrombey family, as it turned out, did not make any special efforts to obtain the money of the famous grandfather. Probably, they simply assumed that the wealth would simply “get” to them in a natural way – just as some of Harlan’s funds had previously gotten when they parasitized on his talent. Unlike them, Martha, even after becoming the heiress of a multi-million dollar fortune, fights not for money, but for her family not to be deported from the United States. That is, we can assume that “Knives Out” is not a film about money and murder because of it (although it tries to appear so), but about an immigrant trying to cope with the mores of modern America.

Chris EvansChris Evans as Ransom. Frame from the film.

According to viewers trying to find a hidden meaning in the film “Knives Out”, it has another interpretation. There is an interesting and rather large mise-en-scene in the film, in which the Thrombies talk about how dangerous the influx of migrants in their country is.

In the interpretation of Rian Johnson, one can see an allusion to the US conservative elite, whose representatives are often caught making racist statements. Moreover, he contrasts honest Martha with the intrigues of American “aristocrats”, and he does it so directly that it’s time to think: what worries him more – the opportunistic political agenda, or cinema? ..

However, one should not rush to reproach Rian Johnson for his desire to demonstrate loyalty to the add-ons prescribed in the program of the US Democratic Party – this is contrary to the ending with the notorious mug. The inscription “My home. My rules. My coffee” can be perceived not only as a funny slogan. In the context of events, it looks quite creepy – after all, in the end, the Thrombies were thrown out of their own home, and the migrant Martha got everything.

vacationing familyFrame from the film.

Similar films

Here are a few more films similar in meaning to Knives Out:

  • “8 Women” (France, Italy, 2001). Christmas Eve. In a large house, 8 women gather – relatives of the head of the family. But the holiday is canceled due to his murder. Any of them could do it.
  • Clue (USA, 1985). Six guests arrive at an old manor. The owner of the house is soon killed by someone and an investigation begins.
  • Gosford Park (USA, UK, Italy, 2001). The owner of the estate is killed, and everyone present is under suspicion.
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel (USA, Germany, 2014). The concierge and his assistant become participants in exciting adventures.
  • Murder by Death (USA, 1976). A charismatic millionaire invites guests to his house and informs them that at exactly midnight one of them will certainly be killed. The guests will have to investigate and prevent the crime.

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