See How They Run Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
An incredibly self-aware “whodunit”, set in the world of London’s 1950s theatre. George’s murder mystery is a typical Christie tale with Wes Anderson aesthetics.
Genre: Comedy / Mystery
Director: Tom George
Cast: Sam Rockwell, Saoirse Ronan, David Oyelowo, Ruth Wilson, Reece Shearsmith, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Harris Dickinson, Pearl Chanda, Charlie Cooper & Adrien Brody.
Run Time: 98 min.
US Release: 16 September 2022
UK Release: 09 September 2022
German Release: 27 October 2022
I am a sucker for the murder mystery subgenre, movies like Clue, Knives Out, or the whole Agatha Christie film series, concerning the author’s master detective Hercule Poirot, are among some of my favourites! So naturally, after watching the trailers, I was looking forward to seeing Tom George’s big-screen debut. Especially when hearing that Rockwell plus Ronan would be in the roles of the investigating duo! The end result is a fun, if somewhat bland story. So get your magnifying glasses out and join me in my review for See How They Run…
Set in London's West End of the 1950s, plans to adapt a hit play by Agatha Christie are put on hold after a critical crew member is murdered and staged. Scotland Yard Inspector Stoppard is assigned to solve the case, with the help of Constable Stalker.
Writer Mark Chappell elaborated a meticulous, smart screenplay, surrounding the difficulty to bring Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap onto the silver screen. Filled with both, a few actual historical happenings plus a fully fictitious narrative, Chappell enveloped the account of the stage play into a murder mystery that borders on a meta-level. It is a fun and entertaining plot, that not only pays homage to much of Christie’s work but also parodies the murder-mystery subgenre.
The strongest facet of the script is the humour. Be it the self-awareness of the characters in their situation, or the absurd portrayal of the “whodunit” element, audiences will get their fair share of laughs out of Tom George’s feature debut. It is also laced with humorous easter eggs, considering Agatha Christie’s characters. However, what drives the plot forward, is the superb comedic back-and-forth, between the two investigating lead characters; one being a veteran cop, the other, a young, eager constable, still wet behind her ears. It is simply entertaining seeing both of them stumbling from clue to clue.
Sadly, what is left behind is the mystery aspect of the premise. Never did I really feel compelled to figure out by myself who could have committed the murder. The whole account is overshadowed by its satirical undertone. The investigation, just as the questioning of suspects, is stretched out to its maximum, leading the viewers to forget what it is actually about. Once the final act, with its reveal, rolls out on screen, one remembers that there is still a murderer on the loose.
The dialogues are well written, as well as delivered. Sam Rockwell does put on a fairly good British accent, while Saoirse Ronan sticks to her native Irish intonation. It is through dialogue that the fourth wall is broken a few times, with characters directly speaking to the audience.
Sam Rockwell is one of my favourite actors, with only his goofy performance in Iron Man 2 somewhat disappointing me. Here he plays the washed-up Inspector Stoppard of Scotland Yard, as well as a veteran of the Second World War. Stoppard has little ambition in life, not interested in his job, pretty much following his own agenda. Rockwell gave the character wonderful quirks, just like a solid, though not perfect, English accent. His murmurs fit the role of Stoppard well, all in all, a wonderful performance!
Saoirse Ronan does steal every scene she is in, as Constable Stalker. A young woman inside Scotland Yard, eager to learn from a veteran cop. She is energetic, likes to jump to conclusions, but most importantly she wants to pass her sergeants exam. Ronan not only had wonderful chemistry with Rockwell, both playing well off each other, she also gave excellent facial performances.
Sadly, the rest of the cast, with exception of David Oyelowo’s arrogant screenwriter Marvyn Cocker-Norris, is forgetful plus one-dimensional. I would have liked to see more in-depth performances from Reece Shearsmith, playing actual former British film producer James Woolf, who tried to adapt the stage play into a flick, and especially Harris Dickinson, who portrays the late Richard Attenborough.
Finally, Adrien Brody portrays the American regisseur hired by Woolf, to create the adaptation of The Mousetrap for cinemas. While only having little screen time, he does give a powerfully funny performance, if not quite that likeable.
The camera work is nice to look at, containing solid shots, and good settings that end up reminding a little of Wes Anderon’s style of filmmaking. This is especially true once the screen splits up into different panels, showing different accounts. Just like the narrative, the cinematography is pretty tongue-in-cheek. The colour palette suits the 50s aesthetic, while the lighting plays well with shadows.
The setting is a clash of British 50s theatre/movie life and the more grounded world of the police. Through its meta references, the theatre stage sweeps into the investigation of the two officers. Costume and make-up reflect the period this plays in well.
The music is a throwback to old-school flicks of this genre, composed by Daniel Pemberton. It creates a sense of suspense, which is sadly never evoked on screen.
Verdict: This was one of my most anticipated movies of the year and while I was entertained from beginning to end, I was sadly disappointed by the lack of intrigue concerning the story’s murder aspect. The script is a homage to the tales developed by Agatha Christie, full of funny little easter eggs, enveloping the actual, troublesome background of creating a motion picture of the writer's The Mousetrap, in a fictional murder mystery case. Dialogues and characters were superb, especially the combination of Sam Rockwell’s Inspector Stoppard, with Ronan’s newbie Constable Stalker. The cinematography had a light flair of Wes Anderson's theatrics, while the music was fully underlining the genre. Still fun, still entertaining but not perfect, being more of a satire than a full-fledged “whodunit”. I will give See How They Run a 7.0 out of 10.
Have you seen this comedic murder mystery yet? Do you agree with my points? Leave a comment & as always thank you for reading!