A glamorous setting for a mystery filled adventurethanasispp/pixabay

Rian Johnson’s extravagant Glass Onion is a highly entertaining and detailed whodunnit. The brilliant first Knives Out film introduced likeable detective Benoit Blanc, played by Daniel Craig. I hoped this film wouldn’t fall into the trap most sequels do, following a complete, well–rounded story with a cash–grab sloppy counterpart. No, this film managed to avoid all those traps so many other big flicks have fallen into, including having a fully A–list cast and relying on fame rather than effort for publicity. This star–studded ensemble dodged that possible bullet, with each actor bringing a solid performance. Kate Hudson as Birdie Jay deserves her own mention for her humorous portrayal of an ex–model–turned–designer. The over–the–top persona is self-centred and oblivious (believing that a sweatshop is where they make sweatpants), though Hudson keeps her relevant performance entertaining and lighthearted.

“not taking itself too seriously like so many period whodunnits”

Following a trend of recent releases, Glass Onion mocks the super–wealthy, highlighting their frequent hypocrisy and self–indulgence. Blanc is invited on an exclusive murder–mystery–themed weekend getaway with tech billionaire Miles Bron and his high-profile friends, staying in the extravagant (and ugly!) ‘Glass Onion’ mansion in Greece. Bron, clearly a caricature of Elon Musk and many others like him, was endlessly irritating, and the set of the main room (where we spend most of the film’s runtime) is horrifically tasteless. The platter of glass sculptures haphazardly scattered around the room creates an undertone of tension, reinforced through the camera shots to mirror the straining relationships between people who used to be friends, as well as feeding into the suspense of a whodunnit.

Glass Onion: A 'Knives Out' Mystery TrailerNetflix/YouTube

The camera focuses on reactions rather than expression. We see characters engage with the process as we in the audience do, and the small details create intricate and layered characters with complex motives, keeping you guessing who the killer is throughout! Stress is high in many visual formats. Though not much of a fashionista myself, the lavish and colourful costumes created a visual tension between surface and substance, between friendships which only remain tied together through money. Both Craig and Janelle Monáe’s outfits were wonderful, particularly Craig’s striped swimming ensemble. The extravagance of the whole film was in its own way brilliant, not taking itself too seriously like so many period whodunnits do, but making it light and enjoyable. A wardrobe dominated by cravats and bow–ties, usually stiff and heavy, became exciting and vibrant in Johnson’s filmic world.

“Where the film succeeded was in the anticipation of drama, rather than necessarily the drama itself”

A refreshing curveball thrown by this whodunnit is that it takes a really long time for anyone to actually die. You’re not only kept guessing who might be the murderer, but also who might be the victim. The killer and their motive was obvious enough not to be ridiculous, though not obvious enough to be guessed in the film’s first half-hour, avoiding a common problem with the genre.

Another interesting differentiation from ordinary whodunnits is that the film restarts halfway through, offering new angles and perspectives on scenes we have seen before and revealing a whole new level to some characters. This structural revisitation adds new facets to old events and places. Johnson unravels the plot slowly and steadily, delicately avoiding the classic all–is–revealed in the last five minutes, and instead opting for a puzzle in which the pieces gradually come together.


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The only flaw in the film is the last act. The repercussions of the main events are unclear, though the opportunity to make the most of the visually extravagant practical effects and details felt well crafted. Where the film succeeded was in the anticipation of drama, rather than necessarily the drama itself. Not as sharp as the first film, it was precisely when Blanc exposed the details Poirot–style that my interest wained. The point of the film was not the reveal; it is more so the commentary on the corruption of the ‘sh*theads’ (as they are named in the film), the group of invitees surrounding Bron. Accomplishing what Don’t Look Up executed irritatingly poorly, Glass Onion mocks the lifestyle and attitude of billionaires, and brings the whodunnit into the modern era, rather than attempting to become another Agatha Christie.