Director: Tom George | 1h 38mins | Thriller
In 1950’s London, a Film Director is murdered while working on an adaptation of popular West End production. Sent to solve the case is Inspector Troppard (Sam Rockwell) and overly eager Constable Stalker (Saiorse Ronan), hoping to catch the killer before they potentially strike again.
Whether it be literary or cinematic, the classic whodunnit is arguably one of the most overplayed narratives of all time. Agatha Christie, who plays a pivotal role as a character in Tom George’s newest take on the genre, made the work famous. With numerous adaptations and parodies, it’s hard to watch a classic interpretation without it feeling a little familiar. See How They Run plays just like the classics do, but its self-awareness and charming humour remind you just how fun this genre can be.
While the film isn’t nearly as refreshing as Rian Johnson’s Knives Out, the constant wink to the camera and the awareness of its generic territory are what make See How They Run singular in its own right. The victim, played by a seedy Adrian Brody, narrates us through the whodunnit formula from the get-go, leading us into familiar territory of the classic murder mystery as he blasts the genre for it’s predictability. And in a way, he’s not wrong.
Writer Mark Chappell plays on the very basic form but understands that if it’s filled with enough character and enough humour, the end destination isn’t as important. The film achieves its laughs through a script that’s well aware of itself and an all-star cast that is endlessly watchable. David Oyelowo, Reece Shearsmith, Pearl Chanda and Harrison Dickinson (who plays Richard Attenborough) are all delightfully over the top in their roles, but it’s the chemistry between Sam Rockwell and Saiorse Ronan that really wins you over.
It may not be as tightly written as the best of its kind, but the film’s self-awareness and loveable leading duo make it impossible not to like.
Rockwell plays Inspector Troppard, a drunk and unenthusiastic man who’s loneliness has left him weary. His appetite for justice has dwindled until he’s paired with Constable Stalker, the eager rookie to whom he’s forced to tolerate. Rockwell has always been able to play humour well, but Ronan steals the show, with her premature arrests and panicky demeanour she is a constant source of entertainment. But the two of them together add elements of the ‘buddy cop’ movie into it’s murder mystery.
Visually there are similarities to Wes Anderson, not just in the wide symmetrical shots but in the humour as well, but it’s much less distinctive that his work. It’s shot modestly, while also framing its visual gags very well, but like all whodunnit it’s the story that comes first. Through all the great production design, cinematography and attention to detail, the line between homage and parody the film so delicately walks is what makes this so entertaining.
While See How They Run cheekily winks about the exhaustion of the whodunnit, it sneakily gives us a fresh take on it. It may not be as tightly written as the best of its kind, but the film’s self-awareness and loveable leading duo make it impossible not to like.