Analysis of Knives Out

Summary Knives Out is a murder mystery movie that centers around the death of Harlan Thrombey, a wealthy patriarch. The plot follows private investigator Benoit Blanc as he questions the Thrombey family, Harlan's nurse Marta, and others to uncover the motive behind Harlan's death. Flashbacks reveal possible reasons for the murder, including financial dependence, inheritance, and infidelity. After Marta unintentionally injects Harlan with a lethal dose of morphine, they plan to make his death look like a suicide to help protect Marta's undocumented mother. Marta inherits Harlan's estate, causing tension and accusations to rise among the family, and Blanc investigates a break-in at Harlan's room to find the true culprit behind his death. Eventually, Ransom, a member of the Thrombey family, is discovered to have attempted to sabotage Marta's inheritance and cover his tracks but is ultimately arrested, and Marta is cleared of any wrongdoing. In the climactic scene, Ransom confesses to murder and attacks Marta before being apprehended. Marta emerges victorious, holding a note from her late father and standing tall as the mastermind behind her own success.

Characters in the screenplay, and their arcs:

Character Arc Critique Suggestions
Marta Marta starts off as an emotional and uncertain nurse who becomes caught up in the investigation of Harlan's death. Throughout the movie, she struggles with guilt, fear, and the desire to protect her family. She is resourceful and quick-witted, but also vulnerable and inexperienced. As the investigation progresses, Marta becomes more determined and resolute, ultimately coming forward with the truth and clearing her name. She shows herself to be a kind-hearted, compassionate, and ethical protagonist who overcomes her own flaws to do what is right. The character arc for Marta is well-developed and follows a logical progression throughout the movie. However, some of the scenes could have been better connected to one another to create a more cohesive arc. Additionally, some of the dialogue could have been improved to give Marta more agency and emotional depth.
To improve the character arc for Marta, the scenes involving her guilt and fear could be better connected to create a more cohesive narrative. Additionally, more attention could be given to Marta's internal struggles and emotional depth, particularly her conflicted feelings about staging Harlan's death. Dialogue could also be improved to give Marta more agency and emotional depth, particularly during scenes where she is being interrogated about her legal status.
Meg Meg starts off as emotional and sympathetic towards Marta. She later reveals Harlan's selfless nature and stands up against Ransom's snarky comments. Towards the end, Meg tries to defend Marta but is left shaken when her own family turns on her. She ultimately learns to stand up for what is right and stays loyal to her beliefs. While Meg is shown to be sympathetic towards Marta, her character arc could have been more fleshed out. She seems to have a sudden change of heart towards the end, which comes off as jarring. Additionally, her loyalty to her beliefs could have been highlighted more throughout the movie.
To improve Meg's character arc, her emotional journey could have been shown more gradually. Perhaps by including scenes where she witnesses the mistreatment of Marta and it leads to her questioning her own family's intentions. Additionally, her loyalty to her beliefs could have been portrayed as a central aspect of her character, rather than just a sudden shift towards the end.
Linda Linda starts off as a sharp and steely-eyed woman who is being questioned about her father's death. She is driven and accomplished, but haunted by her father's legacy. As the story progresses, Linda becomes more and more entangled in the investigation and begins to show her vulnerable side as she mourns the loss of her father. She tries to keep the peace in the family but ultimately fails, becoming aggressive towards Marta when she learns that Harlan left everything to her. Linda eventually realizes the truth behind her father's death and becomes a more empathetic and understanding person, taking on the role of a matriarch figure to bring her family back together. Linda's character arc is well-developed and consistent throughout the movie. However, her initial sharp and steely-eyed persona lacks depth and could benefit from more backstory or exploration of her relationship with her father.
To improve Linda's character arc, more focus could be given to her relationship with her father and her motivations for protecting her family's legacy. Additionally, her resentment towards her brother Walt could be explored further to add more complexity to her character. Finally, more emphasis could be placed on Linda's transition from a driven and competitive person to a more empathetic and understanding matriarch figure.
Richard Richard starts off as a gruff and frustrated husband, but as the investigation unfolds, he becomes more involved and defensive, eventually revealing his own secrets and being exposed as duplicitous. His values and beliefs are questioned as he uses his influence to sway Marta's opinion. While Richard's character arc does show some progression, it feels predictable and unoriginal. Additionally, his sudden switch to being duplicitous feels too abrupt and not properly set up, making it feel forced.
Richard's arc could be improved by adding more nuance to his frustrations with Ransom and his relationship with Linda. This could help build up to his eventual reveal as a manipulator and add more depth to his character. Additionally, his values and beliefs could be foreshadowed earlier in the movie, so his influence over Marta feels more natural and less forced.
Ransom Ransom starts off as a flashy and entitled young man who causes trouble and tension within the family. He has a strained relationship with Harlan and others in the family. As the movie progresses, he is revealed to have a more complex personality, rescuing Marta and expressing shock over recent events. He becomes more involved in the investigation and is suave and charming but ultimately revealed to be conniving and manipulative, playing a key role in Harlan's death and willing to do anything to secure his inheritance. He is arrested for his crimes at the end of the scene. The character arc for Ransom is interesting and complex, but it could have been more fleshed out. His sudden turn to wanting to help Marta could have been better explained or developed earlier in the movie. Additionally, some of his actions towards the end of the movie, such as trying to frame Marta for Harlan's death, seem somewhat out of character or inexplicable given his previous actions.
To improve Ransom's character arc, the movie could have included more scenes or dialogue showing his motivations and thought process leading up to his reveal as the mastermind behind Harlan's death. Additionally, his relationship with Marta could have been developed more throughout the movie to make his eventual actions towards her more understandable.
Detective Elliott Detective Elliott starts off detached and analytical, only focused on finding the truth about Harlan's death. As he questions Marta and uncovers more information, he begins to sympathize with her and care about her well-being. He becomes more emotional and invested in the case, determined to bring justice for Harlan and Marta. By the end of the movie, he has learned to balance his analytical mind with empathy and compassion. The character arc for Detective Elliott is not very clear and feels somewhat underdeveloped. It seems like his emotional transformation happens quite suddenly and could benefit from more gradual development throughout the movie.
To improve the character arc for Detective Elliott, the movie could show more scenes where he interacts with Marta and begins to empathize with her. Additionally, it would be helpful to see more internal struggle or reflection from Detective Elliott as he grapples with his changing emotions. Some added background information about Detective Elliott's personal life or motivations could also help flesh out his character.
Walt Walt starts off as a resentful businessman seeking his father's approval and control of the family business. However, as the events of the investigation unfold, Walt is forced to confront his own complicity in the family's wrongdoing and realizes the importance of family loyalty. He ultimately makes a selfless decision to protect Marta and the Thrombey family's reputation. While Walt's character arc does show some growth and development, it could benefit from more nuanced exploration of his motivations and inner conflicts throughout the film.
To improve Walt's character arc, the film could delve deeper into his relationship with his father and his feelings of inadequacy within the family. More exploration of his moral dilemmas and emotional journey could also add dimension to his character.
Benoit Blanc Benoit Blanc starts off as a renowned private investigator with a keen interest in Marta and a cautious yet observant approach to investigating the Thrombey family. As he delves deeper into the case, he becomes more skeptical and perceptive, uncovering new leads and hints at a premonition. By the end of the movie, he has successfully solved the mystery and shown a softer side to his character in his interactions with Marta. While Benoit Blanc's character arc is well-paced, it feels like it could have used a bit more depth and exploration of his personal motivations and backstory.
To improve Benoit Blanc's character arc, the movie could have delved deeper into his personal life or given us more insight into why he cares so much about finding the truth. Additionally, having him struggle with his own doubts or biases could have added another layer of complexity to his character.
Harlan Harlan starts off as a confrontational and suspicious character but as the movie progresses, the audience sees a more compassionate and protective side to him. Harlan develops a bond with Marta and is willing to go to great lengths to protect her and her mother. He becomes a cunning and calculating millionaire who is able to plan his own fake suicide in order to expose the greed and flaws of his own family and ensure Marta inherits his fortune. In the end, Harlan dies as a hero who values justice and loyalty. The character arc for Harlan is well-rounded and engaging, however it is quite predictable. As soon as he is shown to have a soft spot for Marta, it is clear that he will do whatever it takes to protect her and her mother. There are no major surprises in his actions or motivations.
To improve Harlan's character arc, the writers could have included more moments of moral ambiguity. For example, it would have been interesting to see Harlan struggle with the decision to fake his own death and betray his family. Additionally, more scenes showing his relationship with his children and their complicated dynamics could have added another dimension to his character.
Joni Joni starts off as a calculating and selfish person who only cares about herself and her luxurious lifestyle. However, after seeing the harm that her actions have caused to Harlan and her family, she realizes the error of her ways and decides to be more selfless and caring towards those around her. The character arc is predictable and not very original. Joni's transformation feels abrupt and forced, and the audience is not given enough reasons to empathize with her character.
To improve the character arc, the filmmakers could show more of Joni's backstory and motivations. They could also create more conflicts and struggles for Joni to overcome, which would make her transformation more meaningful and impactful. Additionally, they could explore how Joni's newfound empathy and selflessness affect her relationships with her family and colleagues.
Blanc Blanc starts off as a calm and collected investigator with keen observational skills. He is persistent in his investigation and determined to uncover the truth about Harlan's death. As the investigation progresses, Blanc becomes increasingly intrigued and uses his unconventional methods to peel away the layers of deception and lies surrounding the family. He shows empathy towards Marta and is able to see through the manipulations of the family, culminating in his validation and affirmation of Marta's victory. The character arc for Blanc is well executed and does justice to the character. However, there could have been more exploration of his personal motivations and backstory, which would have added more depth to the character.
Perhaps in future movies, Blanc's personal life could be explored more to provide more context to his backstory and motivations. Additionally, the arc could have been strengthened by exploring his emotional reactions to the events that occur in the movie. Overall, the character arc for Blanc is well done and provides a satisfying conclusion to the movie.