Spoilers think the butler did it.
You would be forgiven for thinking this was directed by Wes Anderson. Or perhaps they were going for Tim Burton. Getting the stylized look does speak to the production values, but the quirky comic like aesthetic prevents the comedy from reaching any mystery thriller vibes. Still, it’s a whodunit that both idolizes and mocks the idea of a theater setting while mimicking it. It does hold entertainment value, but I did have a few things to note. Let’s get into it.
See How They Run (2022) was directed by Tom George and written my Mark Chappell. It’s London of the 1950s. A successful run of the murder mystery play “The Mousetrap” is all but guaranteeing a movie adaptation. Pompous Hollywood director Leo Kopernick (Adrien Brody) is set to direct, that is until he gets murdered during the celebration party. Enter jaded and tired inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) and spunky rookie Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan), your detectives for this mystery. They must sort through an ensemble cast of suspects with the possibility that the killer will strike again because… Okey, I’m not sure why a second murder is foreseen.
It does have working parts. Stalker is the most engaging character, both in her earnest devotion to keeping track of all the facts in her notebook as in her propensity to jump to conclusions. That all depends on Saoirse Ronan’s craft and she throws herself onto the role. We also get to see a very light subplot of her trials being taken seriously as female member of Scotland Yard, and her very strong capabilities as a detective. Stoppard as played by Sam Rockwell is probably the closest that we have to a functioning alcohol- I mean, detective, but he seems more interested in his next drink and taking a nap. Then again, that is his character and he does act the part. He does finally acknowledges he’s been less than a stellar partner at the very end. Giving him an earlier realization would have given his character some development, so he’s like a bit one-note.
The rest of a cast is a mixed bag of sorts. They don’t have a lot to do and most of their background stories seem to have been cut down to a few exposition points. Performances are often over the top, because as it should be obvious, we’re actually in a theatrically themed setting. Everytime they talk about the nuances of theatre they are incorporated in the actual movie, giving it a meta realistic feel. Even the in-universe theatre stage becomes the real lounge in the end. Comedy is the theme rather than mystery, so don’t expect detective work to give you the answer. That is not to say you will be baffled. You can just pick the character that the movie sidelines out of the suspects’ line-up but keeps featuring on the background. Yeap, you found the killer.
The movie does have an insider wealth of little trivia tidbits from Agatha Christie’s body work (Shirley Henderson appears as Dame Agatha Christie herself) including a few from the actual 1953 play “The Mousetrap” written by Agatha Christie. However, even with the entire meta commentary this is not an adaptation of the actual play nor of the actual murder plot. There is, however an allusion to it halfway that I can’t give away as it would be too spoiler-ish. The Agatha Christie easter eggs might act as an additional entertainment for the enthusiastic reader.
Lightly recommended. The look and feel are interesting for about half and then it can get a little tired. The main cast is entertaining enough, with Saoirse Ronan being the standout performance and Sam Rockwell falling just a step behind. Seriously, Saoirse Ronan’s performance keeps this movie above average. There’s an intended mirroring of the movie story with the in-universe theatre look and adaptation ideas, downright to the ending. Perhaps worth a watch for Ronan or Rockwell explicitly or if you love the aesthetic, but it might attract an audience of Agatha Christie’s readers for the easter eggs sprinkled on top of the production.
That will do for now.