This story contains spoilers for Knives Out.
A thick cloud of guilt looms over the unconscionably wealthy family at the center of Knives Out, the spirited new whodunit from the writer-director Rian Johnson. In the film’s opening moments, an elderly patriarch (played by Christopher Plummer) is found dead in his study. Though his throat was slit, law enforcement quickly rules Harlan Thrombey’s death a suicide. But when Benoit Blanc, a mysterious private detective (Daniel Craig), arrives to investigate, Harlan’s loved ones assume that the octogenarian, eccentric and exacting in life, has left them a final challenge: unearthing the details of his suspicious demise.
So begins Johnson’s intricate murder mystery, a thrilling puzzle in which nearly everyone is a suspect. Even in their grief, the melodramatic Thrombeys make easy villains, and Knives Out gradually reveals everyone’s potential motives. Harlan’s eldest daughter, Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis), and her no-good husband, Richard (Don Johnson), were jockeying for control of the family fortune, and the latter was furious with the deceased for confronting him about his infidelity. The couple’s son, Ransom (Chris Evans), resented Harlan’s decision to cut him off from the family funds. Joni (Toni Collette), the widow of Harlan’s son, had been extorting her father-in-law before his death. Walt (Michael Shannon), Harlan’s only living son, wanted to run his father’s publishing company, but the proprietor had deemed him unworthy. In these compromised positions, the stacked ensemble shines; the Thrombeys snivel, scoff, and lie shamelessly.