Knives Out Analysis

So, what is Marta’s fixed attitude?

@mike.d has convinced me that you are right. She is Situation.

So is it the situation of being framed for murder? Or being the daughter of an undocumented immigrant?

Cuz what would follow below might look very different, right?

You caught me mid-post @MWollaeger!

I still am not convinced.

Panicking, throwing up when lying, being afraid, being righteous (principled to a fault) – all of these seem like Mind problems.

I thought this at first too – daughter of an undocumented immigrant totally sounds like a Situation problem.

But then I kept thinking about how she throws up when she lies. This seems pretty central. Not only is it the way she resolves the story (Unique Ability?), it makes it really, really hard to hide your culpability in someone’s death when you literally can’t tell a lie without yukeing. The absolutely sounds a lot more like a Mind problem to me – I can’t see that as a Situation issue at all.

So which is it?

So this is where I get frustrated with/question the one step at a time approach.

Isn’t it possible (say) that:

  • Panicking, fear, rightousness etc. stuff is Mind;
  • The Concern is Memory (everyone forgets where she comes from – which is a way of saying they don’t take account of her at all)
  • Then the Issue is Falsehood – she throws up when she lies. But also wouldn’t the issue of lying be an especially difficult problem for someone whose mother is undocumented? I can’t articulate the gist, but I don’t think “being undocumented” is that far away from Falsehood.
  • Finally, that leaves us with a Problem of Inequity – undocumented people face unjust treatment, don’t have the resources to fight deportation, and Marta is stuck as the help.

Totally willing to be wrong on this …

EDIT: This might be more of a stretch, but she also appears to forget (Memory) which vial is the right one.

Maybe a Unique Ability of Interdiction? She’s able to intervene in her natural instinct to throw up long enough to trick Ransom. And in doing so, she changes the course of events (Ransom getting away with murder).

Which one is the bigger problem for her?
Reactionary throwing up to cover her culpability?
Or the situation that she’s culpable for?

I’m actually not totally convinced of all this myself…

Maybe let’s look at IC, entertaining the idea they’re in Universe… what does that look like?

Harlan: he’s aging and in poor health. He’s stuck with this family of spoiled narcissists.

Ransom: the black sheep of the family, he’s going to be cut out of the will.

Somewhat relevant Universe gists:

being the parent of someone
being the child of a famous person
being stuck with children
being stuck with a particular group

Mike already mentioned that attitudes can move in both directions meaning it doesn’t matter if it’s martas attitude or others attitudes about her. But also, look at who actually experiences conflict because of this. I haven’t seen the movie, so I can’t give an example from the movie, but let’s say there was a movie where everyone has an attitude about one character and the resulting conflict is X. If only one character experiences conflict X because of everyone’s attitude toward one character, then that’s probably an MC or IC story, even if the character with conflict X isn’t the character everyone has an attitude about. If everyone experiences conflict X because of everyone’s attitude toward one character, then it’s probably an OS. If a relationship grows or moves or changes because of everyone’s attitude toward one character it’s probably an RS.

Repulsion and Falsehood are on a different vertical level of the chart than Preconscious and thus should produce different “kinds” of source of conflict. Does puking after a lie tell us something about Marta’s values as a character? Something like “lies are so disgusting they make one puke and should be avoided unless one needs to lie to pull a confession from a murderer”? If so, this may be Repulsion or Falsehood or some other term on that level. But if puking after a lie is something Marta engages in in order to produce a desired and intended result–something like “Marta pukes every time she lies in order to show others how righteous she is”–then it might be Preconsciuos or some other term on that level. Of course, it could also fall somewhere completely different for all i know, not having seen the film.

This sounds a lot like an example of Preconscious to me. Preconscious is having a reaction to something without thinking about it, acting without thinking, like a reflex. So a physical reaction of uncontrollably puking at a lie would fit that. But then the question would be is the puking at lies treated as something that is a problem for Marta (“puking after a lie causes some issue X that i have to deal with”) or is puking what makes engaging in just the process of lying a problem (“I just told a lie. I’m so disgusted and full of inner turmoil that i’m going to barf!”) or is it neither?

Yes, plotwise, encoding wise. But the storyform doesn’t need to distinguish between them. Unless I’m misunderstanding you.

I guess what I mean is that the storyform is not necessarily a more granular look at one problem.

Then we can table this and move to another part of the storyform and when it all gels, that’s good. The DUG is rarely linear.

Have we even talked about Outcome, etc?

It is interesting that she has two problems. Puking and Immigration. I would have to watch it again to pull out examples of when these come into play.

I think I’m going to change my perspective here.

Ransom is doing a lot of work to frame her. That probably makes him the Antagonist, not the IC.

She is selfless (a nurse, helps the woman at the end instead of helping herself). Contrast that with the entire family. They are selfish and backstabbing. I think they might be the IC.

We have the manipulation going around the murder. This is not the same as their attempts to get her to give up the money. And at the end, she does take on their attitude—she (selfishly) keeps the money!

This feels like a Success/Good story to me – the mystery is solved, and Marta comes out okay. Anyone disagree?

Oh, and of course I agree with Optionlock.

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That’s interesting. I can maybe see that.

In which case though, I might have to revise my commitment to Marta being in Mind.

I couldn’t find a unique relationship with Ransom and Marta. But with the family, Marta goes from “honored and forgettable family nurse” to “we have to kiss your ass” to “you stole our money!”

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You don’t think it’s the activities they do together?
It’s a relationship of working together. Co-conspirators?

Something like Allies to Enemies?
(Enemies once the IC is handed to Ransom, who is so much like Harlan)

@MWollaeger are you suggesting that the family represents a collective IC? Or that they represent the RS?

I could see them as a collective IC maybe (including Harlan). I still think the RS is between Harlan and Marta. Her relationship with him has a very different feeling than the relationship with the family.

Sorry, my head is in something else, and I’m not really paying attention to what I’m writing.

I couldn’t see a unique perspective from Ransom, so I turned to thinking about the family.

But I like your thoughts.

Maybe, the family is the IC and the RS is with Ransom?

It seems like so much of what the family does falls under the OS.

Okay, couple of side notes that are bubbling up for me:

• There are two kinds of Manipulation going on.
• First is “crazy family” and “let’s pressure the immigrant”. That’s things like calling her to see if she’ll pay for the granddaughter’s college education. That’s things like playing it so cool until you realize you’re out of the will, and lying about being self-made people.
• Second is “I’m going to manipulate the crime”. That’s Ransom exclusively, switching the bottles and sneaking up the back trail. Since these things are aimed specifically at Marta, are they part of the Activity RS? They also bring Ransom into the story early, even though he’s not there much in the beginning of the movie.

That is true, but does it change over the course of the movie? Or is he more of a Guardian that has a special relationship with her?

[Incidentally, I am remembering that Harlan at one point said to Marta “I took him out of the will, just like you recommended”. Do I have that right? How would that affect things?]

I agree that the family is mostly OS, and all about manipulating each other.
Bickering and name calling. Sneaking around on each other. Deceiving each other. Trying to twist each other’s words, throwing each other under the bus, lying about this or that.

If the family is collectively the IC, then who else besides Marta do they affect and cause conflict with? The IC has an impact and creates conflict for everyone around them, yes?

That’s not exclusively Ransom. Both Harlan and Marta manipulate things about his death too. Marta sneaks around, climbing walls, wearing costumes, forcing people to look at the time, erasing tapes, throwing away evidence, etc.

Those are all the activities she does with Harlan, and then later with Ransom. It’s the game. Together (be it Harlan and Marta, or Ransom and Marta) they are playing the game. That’s the Activity of their relationships.

Can you share examples of this from other movies?