Glass Onion

Glass Onion ★★★

The Benoit Blanc mysteries are back with the same formula that made Agatha Christie a household name. The accusation parlor jammed with a familiar set of character archetypes, all secretly ready to stab the others in the back, while keeping a watchful eye. They maintain a faux sense of comradery that defines this group of miscreants all aiming for each other. Rian Johnson found the formula and now has the key to a neverending goldmine of easily written and always entertaining ideas that set this genre apart from the rest. That said, Glass Onion hit much harder than Knives Out. Less traditional in its murder mystery approach. The gaudy, showy personalities, aesthetic, and story appealed to me more and the twist and turns, albeit with a somewhat lacking reveal, lead to much more enthralling conclusions about the world. It's less about the guessing game and more about the motive that inherently makes the whodunnit more exciting.

As for the construction of the mystery, while the mechanical structure and framework bring out the best in the plot, I found the characters rather limited. It feels as if characters weren't created equally, and some are forgotten along the way. Leslie Odom Jr, for example, slides into the background and there's far more emphasis on Birdie (Kate Hudson) and her link to Miles (Edward Norton). This is a rather minor gripe, and not necessarily indicative of the writing's effectiveness, but it did lead to a rather obvious conclusion.

Nonetheless, the performances are good, with some flying above the others. Kate Hudson's a ball of chaotic energy. Kathryn Hahn's timing is exceptional and makes the comedy work far more than any other character. I'm not fully on board with Daniel Craig's southern Blanc, when I see him emulating the great detective actors (Finney, Ustinov) to a lesser degree. But, he still has charisma, even if the portrayal isn't as finely tuned as I like. And Janelle Monáe, playing two characters, doesn't exactly sell the differences enough. Overall, her character felt like a cheap gimmick and lessened the impact of the reveal.

So, while the production design is awards-worthy, the cinematography striking, and is directed with fervor by Rian Johnson, it loses me in the same way Knives Out did. The fun stems from the genre, but the character writing fails to extend it further. It's a film I'd still recommend watching, but it feels like a bottled-up experience that won't leave a lasting impression.

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