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Whodunnits almost feel prone to being disastrous from a screenplay perspective these days, as exposition can often be the main source of its storytelling, and also, every twist ending has more or less been done in this realm, so I wasn't quite sure what was going to make "Knives Out" depart from these pitfalls. But Johnson has successfully reveled in the genre using familiar setups and motifs to pull off a remarkably intelligent screenplay that wants you to always be wrong in whatever predictions it builds up. There are politics running through the current of this film, but it never throws itself at you, and instead wants the old fashioned fun of Agatha Christie-esque murder mysteries to be the driving force. Lotsa things to notice more a second time! One of my favorites of the year.
Baumbach is doing a lot of things here but all of it wholly contributes to very effective and impactful moments. At times, it's like a 70s Woody Allen film, but then completely switches to replicate more of Ingmar Bergman's darkest qualities. At the same time though, the writing feels completely personal and unique, with scenes that shine with the most memorable performances of the year. It's really the third act and ending that had me emotionally floored.