September 8, 2022

CINEMA | 'See How They Run' Inspects A Whodunit Comedy

"So there we have it, sir. Cherchez la femme!"
Sam Rockwell Tom George | See How They Run
Searchlight Pictures
Set around London's West End theatre district in 1953, director Tom George helms the amusing post-war British detective comedy, See How They Run. Starring Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan as a mismatched pair of investigators looking to solve the murder of a rather detestable American film director (Adrien Brody) backstage during the cast party after a performance of Agatha Christie's long-running stage play The Mousetrap.

Both Rockwell (sporting a wry, understated English accent) and Ronan are charming as Scotland Yard archetypes. The latter is the plucky oversharing rookie constable while the former is a weary, soft-spoken veteran alcoholic detective inspector injured from the war. Ronan, in particular, shines as the impatient gumshoe prone to jumping to conclusions.

Screenwriter Mark Chappell sets up his Clue-like period murder mystery script as a straightforward '50s whodunit. Ronan's constable, over-eager to solve the case, serves as the audience stand-in by writing every detail down and thinking out loud about every possible suspect. It's a clever yet familiar conceit where everyone has a reason to kill the victim as the detectives lay out their motives.

Before soon, the film mirrors the actual play depicted with a parody recreation of its final act referencing its inspiration within itself where Christie even becomes a fictional character in this meta world herself. The film folds in on its own premise without being too cute or overly self-referential.

See How They Run sets itself up as a self-aware, Christie-inspired period murder mystery overtly commenting on its own genre tropes through characters and narrative style. George's serviceable direction and all-star cast make the comedic take on the material a fun, knowing ride in the rich tradition of the whodunit genre.


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