Title: See How They Run
Release Date: 9 September 2022
Director: Tom George
Production Company: Searchlight Pictures | DJ Films | TSG Entertainment
I saw this movie described as “the Wes Anderson-ification of Knives Out” and I can’t shake it out of my head. It’s definitely a stylish and quirky take on the ensemble cast whodunit mystery and while not exactly like Anderson’s work, it does give one a sense of what it’s like. It’s also a meta-commentary on detective stories, particularly Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, with the West End theater where it is performed becoming the site of the murder mystery. The Mousetrap, of course, is the longest running play in the world having over 28,000 performances at the time I write this. I saw it myself about 25 years ago, and thus am solemnly sworn not to reveal the killer.
Meta-commentary can be a knife’s-edge of whether it will work or not, so fortunately See How They Run also has some enjoyable performances. Set in 1953 when the company of The Mousetrap is celebrating a mere 100 performances, the mystery begins with the murder of the loutish American film director Leo Köpernick (Adrien Brody) who is working on a movie adaptation of The Mousetrap even though he’s never watched the play. The investigation of the murder falls to the world weary and alcoholic Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) and his chatty, wise-cracking assistant Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan). Suspects/potential victims include theater producer Petula Spencer (Ruth Wilson), script writer Mervyn Cocker-Norris (David Oyelowo), and real-life figures such as film producer John Woolf (Reece Shearsmith), David Attenborough (Harris Dickinson), Sheila Sim (Pearl Chanda), and Agatha Christie herself (Shirley Henderson).
The movie is not much of a mystery nor is it really a period piece as it’s full of deliberate anachronisms. The humor is hit or miss, but it’s mostly an enjoyable 90 minutes. To be honest, Ronan’s performance is delightful and she really carries the film. Luckily, she’s on screen for most of it.