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See How They Run Movie Review

See How They Run (2022) movie poster
See How They Run

Theatrical Release: September 16, 2022 / Running Time: 98 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Tom George / Writer: Mark Chappell

Cast: Sam Rockwell (Inspector Stoppard), Saoirse Ronan (Constable Stalker), Adrien Brody (Leo Köpernick), Ruth Wilson (Petula Spencer), Reece Shearsmith (John Woolf), Harris Dickinson (Richard Attenborough), Charlie Cooper (Dennis), Shirley Henderson (Agatha Christie), Lucian Msamati (Max Mallowan), Pippa Bennett-Warner (Ann Saville), Pearl Chanda (Sheila Sim), Paul Chahidi (Fellowes), David Oyelowo (Mervyn Cocker-Norris)

 

If See How They Run was a man, someone would ask Wes Anderson to take a paternity test of him. Although he had absolutely nothing to do with this, the DNA of the eccentric American writer-director is all over this British whodunit,
from casting to compositions to tone. We've seen an attempt to ape Anderson's movies done wrong -- Rian Johnson's The Brothers Bloom (2009) springs to mind. We've not yet seen someone copy Anderson's style and succeed. Until now.

A fine directorial debut for Tom George and sophomore screenplay for Mark Chappell, See How They Run doesn't quite opt for Anderson's attention to detail or his penchant for paying homage to various world cinema influences, but that actually helps it find a winning balance between substance and style.

The year is 1952 and Agatha Christie's Mousetrap has just opened on stage at London's West End. An instant hit, the murder mystery is already being prepped for a film adaptation. Arrogant American director Leo Kopernick (Adrien Brody) is to helm the big screen version and he wastes no time in rubbing his collaborators-to-be the wrong way. When Kopernick winds up murdered backstage and symbolically left on stage, everyone associated with the play is suddenly a suspect, from the effete director (David Oyelowo) all the way down to charismatic leading man and future dinosaur theme park enterpreneur Richard "Dickie" Attenborough (Harris Dickinson).

In "See How They Run", Seasoned Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) and rookie Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan) make for an odd couple investigating a behind-the-scenes murder at a play in 1950s London.

Assigned to the murder are the seasoned Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) and the completely green Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan). We spend most of the film with them as they try to rule out suspects with motives abound.

This light, diverting comic mystery is like a Poirot movie played for laughs or I guess what Johnson's Knives Out was for many viewers. But instead of prominent sweaters and political soapboxing, George and Chappell run with wit, puns, character development, and a narrative that holds our interest. These filmmakers and the very talented leads they've landed are not aiming to elevate the craft in a way that builds upon over a hundred years of cinema. They're really just having fun and in that way the movie may be more fairly compared to one of Woody Allen's good comedies than Anderson's more ambitious and dizzying pastel works.

Rockwell and Ronan are two of the most likable in-demand actors working today. We don't know or care about their personal lives. How they manage to do that while putting out the body of work they have is a mystery no one has bothered to solve. To my American ears, the stars of 2017's two best films both pull off the British accent needed without even slight incident. With Ronan as the high-strung rookie and Rockwell as the weary old pro, they're playing against type a bit. But they have the chemistry the film needs and keep us rooting for them to solve the case with no cajun monologues required.

The entire cast and crew of Agatha Christie's Mousetrap, a real play that has been running in the West End for seventy years now, is a suspect when an American film director turns up dead backstage.

The supporting cast does not get as much to do, but it's all a laugh full of split-screen moments and '50s fashions. My fears over this not being screened in theaters
for critics in my big city were set aside early and the film remains pleasantly diverting throughout, never completely soaring but never suffering any lulls either.

The lack of a public screening is probably nothing more than a testament to the industry's evolutions. This is a mid-budget movie for adults, a class that is endangered. Searchlight Pictures, the arthouse division that Disney acquired when they bought most of Fox, has been attempting to adapt, sending several movies straight to Hulu, where they most likely reach more subscribers than they would selling individual tickets in a multiplex. With an opening weekend gross of just $3 million, See How They Run was probably seen by only around 300,000 people since Friday and it just narrowly missed third place at the box office. Moviegoing isn't going to go away overnight but the days of mid-sized movies for grown-ups clearly may be numbered. If you're looking to support your local cinema, this little caper is easier to recommend than anything else playing right now.

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Sam Rockwell: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MissouriSeven Psychopaths | Saoirse Ronan: Lady Bird | Adrien Brody: Midnight in ParisHoudini
Death on the NileThe Grand Budapest HotelMagic in the Moonlight

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Reviewed September 20, 2022.



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