The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Cinema] - SEE HOW THEY RUN | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Cinema] - SEE HOW THEY RUN

See How They Run review
An alcoholic inspector and an enthusiastic policewoman investigate a murder in London's West End.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Tom George

Starring: Sam Rockwell, Saoirse Ronan, Adrien Brody, David Oyelowo, Harris Dickinson, Ruth Wilson, Reece Shearsmith, Sian Clifford, Shirley Henderson, Charlie Cooper

See How They Run poster

I've never been a fan of the whodunit as a thriller format. Spending the length of a movie, book or play trying to second guess the author just isn't something that interests me. Give me the Hitchcock/Columbo format of letting us know who the killer is upfront please. That way I get to shout "They're behind you!" when the killer is, well…behind the hero.

That's not to say I dislike whodunit movies. I love them, but not as thrillers. The best whodunits are essentially character based comedies, and watching a clever professional or as is often the case, amateur detective interrogate a series of eccentric toffs on a stormy night is always a joy.

See How They Run review

Directed by Tom George and written by Mark Chappell, See How They Run is a comedy that fully understands the true appeal of the whodunit and gives us a roster of engaging eccentrics. Like so many whodunits, it revolves around a backstage murder, but in a postmodern twist, the central murder here occurs backstage at a 1953 West End production of Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap, which famously continues its run today (a run interrupted only by the COVID-19 pandemic).

When pompous American director Leo Kopernick (Adrien Brody) is hired to helm a screen adaptation of The Mousetrap, he's attacked and killed in the costume room of the theatre before the killer deposits his body on the stage (a nod perhaps to Michele Soavi's backstage slasher Stage Fright?). Called in to investigate is permanently hungover Scotland Yard inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell), assisted by Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan), a rookie female cop whose boundless enthusiasm only gives him further headaches.

See How They Run review

Thus begins a spoof of classic British murder mysteries as the odd couple of Stoppard and Stalker learn to work together to crack the case. The movie is something of a comedy roast of the murder mystery, frequently mocking the tropes of the genre but always in a loving way. For instance, David Oyelowo's precious screenwriter complains about the laziness of flashbacks just as the movie is cutting to a flashback. Imagine if The Muppets took on Christie as they did Dickens and you'll have some idea of the humour at work here.

With its elevated and exaggerated portrayals of the mid 20th-century British upper middle classes, not to mention a killer decked in raincoat, hat and gloves, See How They Run often plays like the German Edgar Wallace adaptations of the 1950s and '60s. Known as Krimi, these films simultaneously parodied British culture while also displaying a loving fascination for its eccentricities. Krimis had style in abundance, as does See How They Run. Unlike the production it revolves around, the movie certainly can't be accused of being stagey, as George keeps things interesting with some beautifully framed shots, pacey editing and the occasional split-screen sequence thrown in for good measure.

See How They Run review

Movies like this always live or die on the strength of their casts, and everyone here is completely in tune with the sort of movie they're parodying. Ronan gives a truly endearing performance as the movie's one true innocent – it's as though she's the enthusiastic human star of a muppet movie. Harris Dickinson is surprisingly good as Richard Attenborough; while he may not look anything like Dicky, he nails the distinctive voice and affectations of the legendary star. I won’t mention who plays Christie, as I don’t want to spoil the enjoyment of the movie revealing an inspired but unexpected piece of casting.

You don't need to be a fan of classic British murder mysteries to enjoy See How They Run, but if you are you'll have an extra level of fun spotting its many send-ups and references to real life figures from the British film and theatre world of its era. It's not going to beat The Mousetrap's run, but See How They Run deserves a few weeks in your local multiplex.

See How They Run
 is in UK/ROI cinemas from September 9th.

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