Fans of Agatha Christie, Murder Mysteries, and comedy films are going to love to See How They Run. I’ve never seen a film that mixes so many familiar tropes in these three genres together. Tom George the director balances this line with beautiful precision and eloquence.
The film takes place in 1950s London. in the world of underground theater. They are doing a version of a hit Agatha Christie play The Mousetrap. It is a successful production and has a party celebrating its one-hundredth night. While everyone is enjoying themselves after the production is over laughing, dancing, and drinking themselves into a lather a loudmouth producer Leo Kopernick (Adrien Brody) starts hitting on the wife of the star of the play. This causes a huge fight which in turn causes Brody’s character to go back to the stage area to look for some new clothes to wear. While he’s back there he gets murdered in perfect Agatha Cristie style.
Like these types of productions, this film has a lot of suspects and the crack Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) is on the case. Along with his spunky yet dogged assistant Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan). Together they make an odd pairing yet they both bring their own unique skills to this strange murder investigation. They put their differences aside. and they have to wade through all the minutiae of this strange case which isn’t easy. Together they end up making a good team but it wasn’t always easy. Rockwell and Roman shine opposite each other and their chemistry is the reason to see this film.
Besides the two leads in this film, there is quite an abundance of supporting characters or suspects whichever you choose to call them. They all play a very important role in the outcome of this beautifully crafted murder mystery. Marwyn Cocker-Norris (David Oyelowo) is a writer of the script that the play is getting adapted from; he and Brody’s character have a love-hate relationship. Reece Shearsmith (John Woolf) is another producer of the film. Petula Spencer (Ruth Wilson) is the owner of the theater that the play is taking place in and every night it’s not in production she’s losing money. And last but not least is Richard, or Dickie as he likes to be called, Attenborough (Harris Dickinson) He has a chip on his shoulder and thinks his you know what doesn’t stink. He’s cocky and very stuck on himself. Anybody can see that so the fight might have been enough motivation to kill Brody’s character. This movie is filled with juicy characters to follow along with.
The style and humor that the movie is based on is a lot of fun. There is quite a bit of comedic banter among this entire cast. It’s like they’ve worked together their entire careers. With all the moving parts you can’t look away for one minute you’ll miss something important someone says that may or may not be pertinent to the overall storyline. With all these characters it’s hard to see them all shine, but that they do. Especially Rockwell and Ronan as the leads. There are just so many little things that are strung throughout the movies it’s hard to describe them all. This film may need a second viewing though to capture all the nuance and little things the actors do to make this a fun ensemble film.
Besides the great cast, writing, and direction this film has fantastic production design and costumes, and hairstyling. These characters sure do look every bit the way people dressed and looked back in the 50s. The camera work is exquisite moving around all these people. This couldn’t have been an easy task. The theater’s setting, the ballroom, the police station, and the house that the film mostly takes place in are straight out of a time capsule of the period. And it’s pretty cool when a story fits into the locations it’s supposed to be set in. Maybe setting it on a stage was a good idea. It fell right into the production designer’s lap. It looked great from beginning to end.
See How they Run has so many in-jokes and lines of dialogue referring to classic Agatha Christie works and references to murder mysteries it’s hard to keep track of them all. The filmmakers have assembled a very impressive cast to tell this funny yet entertaining story. The chemistry between Rockwell and Ronan is off the chain. It seems like they’ve been working together their entire careers. As a fan of this genre, I can say this is a fantastic tribute to all the films and television shows that came before that it pays homage to. This is a worthy movie that can be talked about in the same breath as some of the other terrific murder mystery films.
Dan Skip Allen