Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Whodunit? No matter, the actors are fun

     We're in the 1950s and London audiences are flocking to a stage  adaptation of Agatha Christie's Mousetrap, so much so that the production has just celebrated its 100th performance. 
   Always eager to capitalize on a bona fide success, Hollywood has taken note: A film production looms. 
   At a party celebrating the play's success, the cynical director who has been asked to make the movie is murdered. The age-old question arises: Whodunit?
    In the case of See How They Run, it hardly matters who committed the crime. The movie is less a mystery than a genre spoof  that clearly knows the game its playing.
     Working from a screenplay by Mark Chappell, director Tom George allows his movie to run on winking humor and the pleasure of watching actors "sell'' characters that border on the parodic.
     First, there's Leo Kopernick (Adrien Brody), the obnoxious and newly murdered movie director who we learn had been feuding with the movie's screenwriter, the mincing Melvyn Crocker-Norris (David Oyelowo). 
     Two policeman anchor the story. Demonstrating a flare for character comedy, Saoirse Ronan portrays Constable Stalker, a novice cop who's eager to prove her worth.  
     Sam Rockwell joins Ronan as Inspector Stoppard, a veteran detective who's entirely too fond of drink and who's prone to falling asleep on the job. Rockwell doesn't overdo the English accent but still conveys disbelief and rueful judgment as he and Stalker set about solving the crime.
     Ruth Wilson as the play's producer and Reece Shearsmith as the aspiring producer of the movie both do fine work. Harris Dickinson finds laughs as Richard ("Call me Dickie") Attenborough.
     No need offering a cast roster but everyone seems to have understood the nature of material that may remind audiences of Knives Out, which, I suppose it must be said, was better.
    Comparison to other movies, as well as expectations associated with Glass Onion, director Rian Johnson's follow-up to Knives Out,  shouldn't detract from a movie that (bless its soul) finds a lane and occupies it well -- or at least, well enough.
    So who did it? Why, the actors, of course. They're largely responsible for delivering the generally snappy goods.

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