see how they run
starring: saoirse ronan, sam rockwell, harris dickinson, and adrien brody
REVIEWER: nick tonkin
In the West End of 1950s London, plans for a movie version of a smash-hit play come to an abrupt halt after a pivotal member of the crew is murdered.
See How They Run is a fun and clever comedic murder mystery with a smart script, wonderful production design and an impressive cast. Saoirse Ronan stands out as Constable Stalker, an enthusiastic rookie assigned to assist Sam Rockwell’s Inspector Stoppard on an investigation of an Agatha Christie style whodunnit.
It is the 1950’s a Hollywood film director (Adrien Brody) is working on a project to develop the Agatha Christie play, The Mousetrap into a film. However, the man generally enrages most people he interacts with, especially the play’s lead actor Richard Attenborough (Harris Dickinson) and the film’s screenwriter Mervyn, played wonderfully by David Oyelowo. Soon the director is bumped off and the eyes of Inspector Stoppard are cast over those involved with the film’s production.
See How They Run invites the comparisons to Agatha Christie’s work, not simply because The Mousetrap serves as an element of the plot. This is just part of the film’s confidence and its awareness of the familiarities of the murder-mystery genre, and while it does toy with the formulas of the genre, it isn’t to such an extent or success as 2019’s Knives Out. Also, thankfully See How They Run’s knowing winks to the audience feel well placed, fitting with the overall comedic tone the film cultivates rather than pulling it into tacky territory.
Saoirse Ronan is excellent as Constable Stalker; her enthusiasm is endearing and extremely funny, especially moments where she forgets Inspector Stoppard’s advice to not jump to conclusions, leading to escalations of all kinds.
The look of the film is another strength, avoiding the polished, CGI heavy look of the recent Poirot films such as Death on the Nile. Here, the production and set design furnish the film with a strong sense of style across sets and costuming, and the cinematography borrows slightly from Wes Anderson’s visual style to coalesce to a charming and quaint whole.
See How They Run is a clever and funny take on the whodunnit genre with a great cast, a charmingly realised style and a standout performance from Saoirse Ronan.