A group of well-off people gather for a trip across the Mediterranean Sea on a yacht, ready to spend a dream week with the impressive dressing of a twisted investigation game. Guests must discover the identity of a murderer while on vacationalthough they do not suspect that a true crime is actually taking place.
a deadly game
No, this is not the premise of ‘Knives in the Back: The Mystery of the Glass Onion’, but it is connected since Rian Johnson cites it as his great influence. One that also involves Hollywood, with a successful producer and several members of the industry, and a brutal murder produced prior to the events that we are about to witness. All this happens in the cult jewel ‘Sheila’s end‘.
Johnson has raved about this film, written by Stephen Sondheim and Anthony Perkins (tremendous combo) and directed by Herbert Ross, which can be seen via Filmin. He is not surprised that he does. Aside from the impulse to try to fervently recommend a great forgotten movie, his method of introducing us to a murder mystery keeps enriching connections with the sequel that has come to Netflix.
The Hollywood coffeehouse references that Sondheim and Perkins develop are done with immense taste, and he finds incredible fun in the way he clashes with the characters they design as well as exploiting their miseries. Many poison darts with an exquisite sense of humorbut also light so as not to lose a very classic thriller pulse.
Then there is the key for a whodunnit of this class to exploit its full potential: the cast. He is not overflowing with big stars, but he doesn’t have a bad actor. James Mason, a young Ian McShane, raquel welch o Richard Benjamin put magnificent notes of color to this group of characters and provides what is necessary for us to care about the intrigue. Watching them slowly fall into their worst selves is the kind of virtue that Johnson has sought in both the first ‘Knives in the Back’ and its sequel.
Its exemplary combination of classic drama, scathing satire on celebrity, and startling thriller make it a the kind of jewel that you want to discover to anyone who crosses your path. Some even make movies taking it as inspiration. What started as a simple game for Sondheim’s friends becomes the key to understanding one of the most sensational movies of 2022.