Much may have changed in cinema — and in the world —, but one statement stands out: suspense films continue to arouse public interest. Rian Johnson is one of many directors to revere – in his own way – the Lady Crime. British writer Agatha Christie (1890-1976) continues to provide the basis for a plethora of thriller films. However, in “Entre Facas e Segredos” (2019), Johnson disturbs the established order in the genre and transfigures the narrative, no longer mattering who did what, but at what point in the story the killer will be reached. The dead man in question is Harlan Thrombey, famous author of suspense books — and the viewer loves these little metalinguistic games —, cruelly beheaded at the age of 85 in his own mansion. Benoït Blanc, renowned detective with the right to profile in the magazine “New Yorker” and all, seems the only one qualified to solve the case, and soon concludes that, for one reason or another, everyone who lived with Thrombey had plenty of reasons to kill. it. The points in common with “Murder on the Orient Express”, published in 1934, are undeniable, but “Entre Facas e Segredos” is original in revealing, in the second act, the circumstances in which the crime took place, which is the fundamental anticlimax of the plot, with the addition that certain characters know what happened and try in every way to make Blanc’s life difficult, while the others remain adrift in the plot, conjecturing, like the public, how the imbroglio will end.
By presenting dramatic arcs that are independent of each other, but that converge in terms of understanding the whole, the film gains in substance. The conduct of all the suspects, each with their own peculiarities, are scrutinized, which encourages the classic idea in the viewer of participating in a guessing game, in which things are rarely as they appear and the different characters have the ability to deceive the audience — despite deliberately letting slip one or another detail that, at some point, will contribute to the solution of the case. Never completely disregarding the clichés of traditional suspense, Johnson delivers a tense and fun film, using the types he builds like pieces of a board game, manipulating them further or further back, in the most diverse rhythms, in order to give history the dynamism that characterizes it and makes it so genuine.
Rian Johnson has rightly been considered one of the most inventive directors in contemporary cinema, as can be seen from his work on “Looper” (2012) and “Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi” (2017), which infuriated the most orthodox fans of the franchise precisely because of the airy nature of the plot, which seemed monolithic. In “Entre Facas e Segredos”, Johnson makes use of eight characters to raise his hypotheses regarding the death of the protagonist. Through the resource of whodunnit (“who killed”, in free translation), the plot unfolds about the eldest daughter, who became a competitor of her father and opened her own publishing house; the youngest son, president of the group that published his father’s books; daughter-in-law, a dondoca who posts photos on social networks and thinks she is an influencer; the fawning son-in-law; the eldest grandson, a womanizer and a bit of a jerk; the granddaughter, a traveling student; the youngest grandson, a project of a despot with ultra-right leanings; and the kind former caregiver.
Certainly, the classic suspense, like Agatha Christie, has lost much of its glamor — and even its raison d’être — in a world enslaved by fads, reductionisms and the infamous political correctness, a true plague that has spread among all civilized societies around the globe from from the beginning of the 2000s. Even so, Johnson points out alternatives in order to circumvent the problem and make a film that is as original as it is thought-provoking, precisely because it is capable of corrupting the established and prompting stimulating discussions, as with the character of Ana de Armas. , old Thrombey’s former caretaker. The class struggle argument, for example, comes to light in a completely recycled way, added to elements that go back to the hypocrisy of xenophobic aristocrats, who claim that the girl would be like someone in the family, but they don’t even know where exactly she came from, without doubt in order to escape from severe poverty and try to make America, struggle, improve its life, prosper, who knows how to get rich, which ends up constituting a comic respite given the astonishing alienation of the wealthy. Most of them are liberals, progressives, but they have certainly never heard of Adam Smith (1723-1790), John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) or John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946); the others assume their authoritarian, reactionary, fascist worldview. In common, the two groups have the same atavistic contempt for the other, especially for the poor other, a Boeotian elite cynically devoted to a philosophy of life based on meritocracy, despite never having had to lift a finger to enjoy all the luxury that it offers. life can offer. By denouncing the parasitic character of the late writer’s clan, Johnson opens other fronts of profit in a film that should be mere entertainment. And luckily it isn’t.
Despite paying a well-deserved homage to the suspense of yesteryear, “Between Knives and Secrets” does not miss the chance to, in some proportion, implode it and erect in its place something really new, politically engaged and, most importantly, far, far from the predictable and the tedious. The story of Rian Johnson is happy as it proves capable of reaching the most different audiences, thanks to careful direction and well-finished performances. An unmistakable demonstration that homage has nothing to do with servility.
Movie: Between Knives and Secrets
Direction: rian johnson