The Mousetrap, Agatha Christie's famous stage murder mystery, has never been recorded. Christie stipulated that the film would only be released six months after the play's release on the West End. It never has. The Mousetrap is the longest-running play in history, still going 70 years after it opened in 1952.
If you believe the production notes, this little meta-whodunit from London theater legend is the movie's source. Jones was attempting to make a fictional whodunit about the whodunit, and transform the film rights themselves into one of the machine's main components.
See How They Run, directed by Mark Chappell, is a funny comedy about Christie's undead demonization as it leans on them. However, George and Chappell are a little too concerned about constructing as knotty and satisfying a mystery as, say, Rian Johnson's whetstone-sharpened Knives Out.
The Mousetraps 100th performance in the real world has now spanned more than 27,500 times. Role of the cast, led by Richard Dickie Attenborough (Adrien Brody), is assembled for a party. Woolf (Reece Shearsmith) and Leo Kopernick (Adrien Brody) are hired to direct the screenplay adaptation. Petula Spencer (Ruth Wilson) is sucked on the sidelines. Everyone is a bit grumpy, for
Theaterland's murder is a joke given the production's history, and that's before the police turn up. Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) has been paired with awkward but zealous new recruit Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan) to solve the case. They get no help from the rest of the murder squad, who is focusing on the real-world, much darker, incidents at Rillington Place.
The sheer amount of humor and double-sided delicacy of this particular feature, highlighting the innocent silliness of the proceedings, while rooting them in a real time and place, is typical of what See How They Run offers, and it is one of the films' main pleasures.
A couple of late-film cameos play into this warped reality in for a hilarious, audacious payoff. The cinematography follows a similar pattern, creating a heightened, glitzy 1950s London with a surprising authentic texture (The producers opportunism strikes again: The film was shot during the COVID-19 epidemic, which allowed the production access to some of London's finest theaters and hotels to shoot in, as they were closed for safety reasons).
Chappells' script is filled with thoughtful barbs, harsh jokes, and mildly mocking characterization. But scenes sometimes go too long in an airless fog between jokes, as comedy must have been one of the most difficult genres to shoot in drought situations.
The cast of Stalkers receives the credit. Ronan, as the charmingly sincere Stalker, executes her comic bits with impeccable timing and gets the greatest laughs without ever going over or overpowering a character. Stalkers' credulous naivete starts out as a joke she notes down everything anyone says, but in Ronans' hands she becomes an endearing hero.
Rockwells funny and underplayed turn complements Ronans perfectly. Stoppard just lets the hijinks happen around him with a shrug, and is somehow more funny for being such a stoic straight guy.
The second act in Dickinsons' attack on Attenborough is a riot, skewering a certain degree of genteel and leading-man fatuousness. Professional actors include Sian Clifford (Fleabag), Lucian Msamati (Game of Thrones), Tim Key (the various Alan Partridge projects), and Shirley Henderson (Harry Potter).
The film See How They Run is a lark, a self-referential fabrication of theatrical and cinematic artifice. The problem is, like most larks of its kind, it uses self-mockery as a get-out clause. He disdainfully picks apart the whodunit cliches from beyond the grave, moments before they appear on screen. His own basic Hollywood instincts are similarly mocked one moment and deployed the next.
On September 16, See How They Run will be released in cinemas.