Throwback Friday: ‘Knives Out’ Gives a Voice to the Voiceless

Why did Knives Out get nominated for an Oscar? It clearly wasn’t a film unlike any other I’ve ever seen. It was a classic whodunnit movie that has twists and turns, leaving you to watch the story unfold with knit eyebrows and rapt attention just for the film to conclude with a shocking reveal that you probably won’t see coming.

(Unfortunately, the culprit of the crime was spoiled to me by a tweet I saw on Twitter.)

Do not worry. I will not spoil the identity of the culprit. But I will spoil a specific aspect of the film that would, in fact, garner the film its Oscar nomination. And that is the poignant plot that wraps around a foreign worker who works for a wealthy white family. Ecuadorian-American woman, Marta Cabrera takes care of the head of the household, an elderly man named Harlan Thrombey, played by Oscar-winning actor Christopher Plummer. He dies tragically and his family hungrily await the result of his will.

Turns out Harlan Thrombey, a wealthy man who possesses a mansion, $60 million, and a publishing company, provides his entire will to his Brazilian nurse, Marta Cabrera. It is a shocking turn that sends the family into hysterics. Marta is horrified. But in the end…

SPOILER ALERT AHEAD!

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She inherits what he has to offer and the white well-to-do family who thinks they are the center of the universe must look on as this foreigner stands as the wealthiest among them.

I have to admit despite not enjoying the film as much as I would’ve hoped to, I smiled at this conclusion. The pure hatred and disgust on these people’s faces as they looked at Marta standing on the balcony overhead, these same individuals who praised her earlier in the film and said “she was part of the family”, these were the people willing to do whatever it took to see her pay for taking what they thought rightfully belonged to them.

In an instant, Rian Johnson thrust in the face of the world the ugliness of those with hatred in their hearts. At one point in the movie, the family is sitting around talking, discussing the controversial topic of the Mexican immigrants coming across the border (while Marta is in the room by the way.) They speak about the little children in cages but none of them really care. They believe if the immigrants committed a crime they should be punished accordingly, even the children, some as young as toddlers. That’s their mentality and the mentality of a good chunk of the country. That’s why we have a certain man as our president at this very moment.

I don’t like getting political but I have to say, I loved the statement that Rian Johnson made with this film. For those foreign children on the border who are still suffering to this day due to horrible treatment by a lack of care, to that immigrant worker who’s trying to make a living for their undocumented family member, this movie gave them a voice and a heroine who actually manages to triumph in the end over the very people who pretend to care.

Now, will this film actually do anything by making people more aware of the goings-on with the immigrant conundrum or is this yet just another privileged person taking a controversial matter to garner an Oscar nod? Unfortunately, I’m leaning toward the latter. But it’s still an interesting undercurrent beneath the facade of a murder-mystery movie.

I also appreciate that Rian Johnson continues to tell stories with diverse heroines that you haven’t quite seen before. Think about Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose in The Last Jedi, the first major Asian female character to appear in a Star Wars movie. Or Ana de Armas’s Marta Cabrera, a Latina heroine who is the driving force of his very next film. And don’t forget, he gave Rey a storyline that actually mattered, providing the idea that anybody could be a powerful Force user and not be related to Palpatine, Kenobi, or the Skywalkers. Abrams retconned that notion.

Johnson knows how to highlight women as both empowering and vulnerable. I’m definitely a bit intrigued to see what new stories he has to tell in the future.

I thank you for reading and I hope you have a beautiful day.

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