The Mousetrap, Agatha Christie's famous stage murder mystery, has never been shot. Christie stipulated that the film would be made six months after the play's premiere on the West End. It never has. The Mousetrap is the longest-running play in history, still 70 years after it opened in 1952.
If you believe the production notes, you'll discover a little meta-whodunit steeped in London theater lore. He planned to create a fictional whodunit about the whodunit, and turn the film rights themselves into one of the machines' cogs.
See How They Run, directed by Mark Chappell, turns Christie upside down and upside down, and laughs at the genre's creaking mechanisms even as it leans on them. But George and Chappell are just too obsessed with their own postmodern genius, and aren't interested enough in constructing as knotty and satisfying a mystery as, say, Rian Johnsons whetstone-sharpened Knives Out.
The mousetraps aren't exactly bad, though; the cast, led by Richard Dickie Attenborough (Adrien Brody), has now performed more than 27,500 times. Woolf (Reece Shearsmith) is present, along with Leo Kopernick, an evil, blacklisted Hollywood director Woolf has hired to direct the screenplay. Attenborough and Kopernick get into a fistfight at the end of the night. Will the show go on?
Theaterland murder is a mischievous game played by the actors given the production's history. Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) has been paired with awkward but determined new recruit Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan) to solve the case. The rest of the murder squad is focusing on the real-world, much darker, Rillington Place killings.
The cleverness and double-sided precision of this concept, highlighting the innocent innocence of the proceedings, while rooted in a real time and place, is typical of what See How They Run offers, and is one of the movies' major pleasures. It's more fun guessing which figures are real people and which are cartoonish inventions than trying to guess who the murderer is.
A couple of late-film appearances inject humor into this wacky, glitzy 1950s London, which is surprisingly authentic. (The filmmakers 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.)
Although it isnt a murder mystery, Chappells' script is packed with tasty barbs, harsh puns, and mildly mocking characterization. But there's a halting rhythm to it, and scenes sometimes go too long in an airless haze between jokes.
Ronan, as the charmingly sincere Stalker, executes her comic bits with flawless timing and gets the biggest laughs without ever going too broad or breaking the character. Stalkers credulous naivete starts out as a joke she notes down everything anyone says, but in Ronans hands becomes an endearing kind of heroism.
Rockwells amusingly underplayed turn compliments Ronans perfectly, while Contrasting her brightness with Rockwells jadedness.
The whole Dickinsons take on Attenborough is a riot, skewering a certain degree of genteel and leading-man fatuousness. The secondary cast is a slew of British television and theater professionals: people like Sian Clifford (Fleabag), Lucian Msamati (Game of Thrones), Tim Key (the diverse Alan Partridge projects), and Shirley Henderson (Harry Potter). They are capable of executing loving yet brutal roles in the space of just
See How They Run is a lark, a self-referential theatrical and cinematic artifice. The issue is, like most larks of its kind, it uses self-mockery as a get-out clause. Adrien Brody dissects the whodunit genre from beyond the grave, moments before they appear on screen. His own basic Hollywood instincts are similarly mocked one moment and deployed the next. It does not have much to say about whodunits other than Would
On September 16, See How They Run will be released in cinemas.