It must be a real downer to have set a movie release date and then have that date coincide with the death of South London’s most famous mother of four. Said film being a murder mystery, even a hint of regal foul play might have helped in the marketing, but alas. Some deaths eclipse even those penned by Agatha Christie.
See How They Run isn’t an actual Agatha Christie adaptation, but it takes place against the backdrop of a production of her play, The Mousetrap, the longest-running whodunnit in London’s theatrical history.
This meta approach is carried through, with the narrator deconstructing the tropes of whodunnit stories even as the movie itself employs them. The characters even talk about the play’s cliches as the film script cuts to the exact thing they’re talking about. Is it a cute device or sort of a cop out to buffer the use of well-trodden ideas? I’m going to say that See How They Run is just about charming enough to carry it off.
A misanthropic film director played by Adrian Brody plays the death interest (this isn’t a spoiler, they signpost it from the beginning), with the dependably-entertaining Sam Rockwell and chatty rookie Saoirse “It’s Actually Pronounced Saoirse” Ronan as his partner fronting the investigation.
Of course, there’s an array of suspects with plausible motives, played with varying amounts of camp, but all well drawn. Anglophiles might recognize Reece Shearsmith (League of Gentlemen), Sian Clifford (Fleabag) and Tim Key (Alan Partridge). David Oyelowo is particularly charismatic as effete writer Mervyn Cocker-Norris, constantly locking horns with Brody over the screen adaptation of the play, and Harris Dickinson plays a great hand as Dickie Attenborough, who was in the real-life original cast.
Rockwell’s inspector is typically world-weary and boozy with, yes, an ex wife, and cynicism for days, and the scenes with Ronan, as she gabs away, saucer-eyed at meeting celebrities, are pacey and funny. The self-referential lines verge on smug, but fall just shy of jarring, and if you give into the silliness, it’s a fun ride. (PO)
See How They Run is playing at the Prytania Canal Place