Knives Out Analysis

Check it out! If that’s the case, and she is steadfast… it could be a matter of Subconscious:

  • being devoted (to Harlan… to her job as a nurse–as evident when she tries to save Fran despite the fact she would prove her guilt)
  • carrying a torch for someone
  • giving in to love
  • could also manifest in being rejected by a particular group once the will is read.

And this is the thing that causes her, and her alone conflict!

Marta’s good heart is the thing causing her conflict over letting Harlan kill himself so her family will be okay.
Her good heart is the thing causing her conflict over saving Fran.
Her good heart is the thing that causes her to follow through with what she knows is right, helping Harlan do what he wanted to do for his family (even if that means cutting them off).

Which would land Harlan/Ransom in Future!

  • getting a continuance
  • changing the future
  • looking down the road
  • protecting something’s future
  • protecting one’s future
  • securing a future for yourself…
    etc. etc.

Oh man, this feels so much better to me.

I plugged this into Subtext with the story points I thought would follow, and got this:

“Keep focusing on following the angel on one’s shoulder (or doing what is right) and you can create a new family dynamic (or become part of a family)”

I mean… :doughnut::ok_hand:

Being truly helpful to Harlan’s family would be in line with everything Harlan says at the beginning about what he wishes he could do for them before he dies. Being a real father, giving them what they need, not what they think they deserve. And she does just that, just like he wanted. She did what’s right for those monsters.

I’m in agreement that despite this being a mystery story, this seems to fall in the bottom left quad. I think it must have something to do with it being a comedic-mystery. My only thought about the Concern being Becoming or the goal being to “create a new family dynamic” is that it raises another question for me – what is Benoit’s role in all this? If the goal is to create a new family dynamic, seems like Harlan is the Protagonist. Benoit doesn’t really care about the family dynamic – he’s all about figuring out what actually happened re: Harlan’s death.

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Yes, it’s a “murder mystery,” but not in the classical sense. Perhaps that’s what makes it feel so fresh. It’s not your typical murder mystery.

Is Rian Johnson really saying this movie is overall about finding the bad guy? I feel like, especially with the twist where both we and the MC think we are in on who the murder victim is, it kind of turns the genre on its head.

It seems to me the overall story is more about:

  • creating a new family
  • being transformed by somebody (both Marta and the family being transformed by Harlan)
  • maybe becoming incarcerated (literally for Ransom, but also the family “imprisoned” by Harlan’s will or perhaps the opposite of that, being set free by his will.
  • evolving
  • transforming a particular group

Seeing it this way, it’s really not so much about who killed Harlan and why. The overall story is about the transformation of the Thrombey family.

And I think the Goal of becoming would be just that, yeah.

I was thinking about this… and while he’s in the Overall Story, he also feels very much NOT in the Overall Story. I wonder if he is another aspect of the Relationship Story manifesting.

He and Marta obtaining together. Catching someone. Arresting someone. Liberating a particular group. Etc.
If you think about it, the rest of the family, and even the cops aren’t concerned with catching someone. As far as the cops go, the case is closed. As far as the family goes, they couldn’t care less and are wondering why the investigation is still ongoing.

It’s just Benoit and Marta who are concerned with the activity of obtaining. A little bit of Marta and Ransom too there, I think.

I’d wager there’s three key relationships in the movie:

Marta and Harlan
Benoit and Marta
Marta and Ransom

Hope you don’t mind me jumping in and throwing this even further off the rails. :smile:

Harlan and Marta have basically one scene together. The overdose / scheming scene. How does their relationship grow or develop over the story?

Ransom is absent to Marta and us for half the story. What relationship exists between Marta and Ransom that isn’t part of the OS (him manipulating her to get the inheritance)?

If Marta didn’t “poison” Harlan, what would her issues be? What is it about her that’s completely unique to everyone else?

Harlan doesn’t need to be there at all for the relationship to grow. He doesn’t even need to be alive. In addition, I think the RS is a handoff RS anyway… though I think there’s a clear progression between her and Harlan too.

Signpost 1: UNDERSTANDING - Harlan and Marta come to an understanding.
Signpost 2: LEARNING - Benoit and Marta finding out about… all sorts of stuff.
Signpost 3: DOING - Benoit and Marta working on the case together, also with Ransom, working together to continue Harlan’s ruse.
Signpost 4: OBTAINING - Marta and Benoit bringing the guilt to justice. Harlan and Marta getting an inheritance. I would even argue there’s a moment between Marta and the painting of Harlan where he almost gives her an approving look.

And then with her being Steadfast, it’s her good heart and refusal to stop helping.


I thought this for a minute too, but

This this does not at all sound like a change in perspective or approach.

Well, her inability to lie seems like a big one.

You don’t think him admitting what he did, then losing his cool and attacking her in front of the cops is going from control to uncontrolled?

Absolutely true. I could see Benoit filling the void left by Harlan. But everything with Ransom seemed entirely OS to me after the reveal.

Certainly. But do you think that was Rian Johnson’s intent when writing the story? “I’m going to write a story about a girl who vomits when she lies?”

I’ll just lay my cards out here. (Confession: Read the script but haven’t seen the movie yet. I know, I know…)

It seemed to me that the intent was you have this poor-ish, daughter of an illegal immigrant who works for a family of conniving, two-faced liars and cheats.

They keep telling her she’s one of them and part of the family. At the same time, they’re hiding their contempt and racism toward because they all suck up to their rich father.

At the end she turns around her situation (gets the house, the wealth, assures her mother can’t be deported) by becoming “one of them”.

I don’t think Harlan, Ransom, or the family (who I think are the group IC) go through any huge change. I think Marta learns to be like them.

Just my two cents. :thumbsup:

I don’t think that’s exactly what Rian was going for either. I think it was more about the poor immigrant nurse who has a heart of gold. And it’s that golden heart which keeps putting her in personal moral dilemmas.

So, she definitely does not become one of them. I think it’s more about the change Harlan’s dying wish he told her about just before being poisoned. Really helping his family instead of bailing them out.
Marta obtaining and the family losing the house is the Consequence of the story.

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So Ransom is the protagonist and Benoit/Marta are the antagonists?

I chose my words poorly. It’s not that she becomes them in the end, but learning to “play their game” and finally get a handle on lying is what allows them to stop Ransom and assure Harlan’s wishes are executed.

So for a while I thought that, but no… I don’t think it’s about her learning to play their game at all. Benoit even has a line about that. She wins by sticking to her own rules, following her heart of gold.

As far as protagonist… hmmm… I think it might actually be Harlan. He’s the one who wanted to change the family dynamic. Ransom would be the antagonist, wanting to stop that change. Both of them with a problem of control.

I took her standing in the house, looking down on the family as her being in their position. They way they looked down on her with half-hearted pity. (Obviously I didn’t see how that line was delivered in the movie).

I thought the whole family turning on her was a big moment. All these people have been so nice and now I see they all have nothing but contempt for me and have been lying in my face.

So the ending, there was no line. It was just them looking at her as she quietly takes a sip of the mug which says “my house my rules”

When the family turns on her at the will reading, to me was moving from control to uncontrol.

I agree Ransom is the antagonist. Preventing the will from being executed and Marta getting everything. So, it would be a Success.

I meant the, “I should really help them.” line to Benoit. Was that cut?

That was in there, to which he replies something like “I know you’ll follow your heart”

And this harkens back to what Harlan says at the beginning about how truly helping them is to cut them off. Which she knows is going through with his wish to give her everything and not them.