' ' Cinema Romantico: See How They Run

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

See How They Run

Set in 1953 London, “See How They Run” opens with the 100th performance of “The Mousetrap” and the American director, Leo Köpernick (Adrien Brody), hired to direct a film adaptation explaining in voiceover why he doesn’t care much for Agatha Christie’s play, or for murder mysteries in general. Indeed, he recites all his qualms of genre, such as the hoary manner in which they all conclude with someone getting everyone else together in the drawing room to explain exactly what happened. This prologue concludes with Köpernick himself getting knocked off, victim of the very murder that sets in motion director Tom George’s own cinematic murder mystery. It’s a set up worthy of, nay, suggesting Charlie Kaufman, not so much tongue-in-cheek as self-aware, taking the form of a murder mystery in order to explore and critique the gene, especially with the arrival of murder mystery novel-loving Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan) shadowing the world-weary Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) as he investigates the crime. That investigation, however, never takes flight, less joyfully farcical in its rendering than weirdly robotic, exemplified by the exhausted red herring that Stoppard might have gone rogue, while the intriguing notion of art nefariously co-opting real life is tossed off rather than thought out and explored Strangely, for a movie that deliberately sets its characters up as archetypes, it is Rockwell and Ronan who most transcend the material. The former is trying on an English accent for size, only kind of committed to it, which winds up wholly appropriate because his character only comes across kind of committed to his profession, while Ronan transcends Stalker’s eager beaver set-up by never becoming overbearing or even a sleuthing natural, just doggedly candid. She is so winning in that candidness, frankly, that she deserved to culminate the movie by getting everyone together in a drawing room and explaining what happened.   

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