‘See How They Run’ is a whodunnit that’s more tightly wound than a corset

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Jackson Piercy

Staff Writer

Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) and Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan) doing some inspecting. Photo from imdb.com.

It’s difficult to get into the genre of the whodunnit without stepping in the shoes of some of the best cinema has to offer. It’s even more difficult to successfully execute the tropes without seeming passé or clunky, especially for as young a directorial career as Tom George’s. It’s odd to say this, because the whodunnit is no more in the mind of your typical John Q. Public than 1985’s “Clue, and maybe the recent Rian Johnson project “Knives Out.” To really be good at this kind of storytelling, whoever is weaving the story must be smarter than not just the characters in the story, but at times the reader, and even the fictional perpetrator themselves. When it’s done correctly, however, the feeling of seeing all the pieces come together in the last twenty minutes can be the most exhilarating of any movie-watching experience.

Sleazy expat director Leo Kopernick (Adrien Brody) has been tasked by his producer, equally sleazy but meeker John Woolf (Reece Shearsmith), to write and direct an adaptation of the Agatha Christie play “The Mousetrap” with the help of eccentric playwright Mervyn Cocker-Norris (David Oyelowo). After a scuffle during the afterparty of the show’s 100th performance, Kopernick is killed backstage and set up on “The Mousetrap’s” very set. Here to solve the case? Alcoholic gumshoe Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) and his overly-enthusiastic trainee Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan). Everyone is a suspect, but nobody seems to be smart enough to pull something like this off. I haven’t read any Agatha Christie, but I’m sure even she can take some delight in this series of misadventures.

Absolutely every single character in this film is an absolute dork, in the best way possible. I can’t think of an even mediocre performance in this film. Sure, it’s cheesy, but I think this is what was the intended mood here. Sam Rockwell (who does a shockingly serviceable British accent) and Saoirse Ronan have nearly immediate chemistry, and a lot of this film’s charm really just comes to form these two opposites that have been forced together. Sure, we’ve seen plenty of antics between your typical “grizzled vet” and “lively newbie,” but there’s some intangible chemistry that really makes them shine through. Even with all of our spot-on performances, I find it even more impressive in shot composition and rhythm. I don’t want to say Wes Anderson, as his style is almost untouchable, but I will admit that I was definitely seeing notes of the way Anderson utilizes the camera in this film. I’m still floored about how this is really both director Tom George’s and writer Mark Chappell’s first real big foray into the silver screen!

I don’t know how it really shapes up to the juggernauts of the genre, but I find myself going to bat for this film more often than not. It’s not really bringing anything groundbreaking to the table, but the used parts here are all used to their maximum efficiency. It pulled the rug out from under me more than once, it made me laugh out loud with seemingly every other line of dialogue, and all in all, is a very excellent start to what is looking to be a very promising career for those behind the camera!