What to Watch This Weekend: See How They Run

See How They Run is a classic story of murder most foul. During the 1950’s in London’s West End, The Mousetrap is the must-see play. The stage adaptation of Agatha Christie’s murder mystery is proving so popular that a film version moves into development under the purview of legendary producer John Woolf (Reece Shearsmith). Woolf has hired American Leo Kopernick (Adrien Brody) to helm the movie, but the director has a habit of rubbing people the wrong way with great consistency. So much so that when Kopernick shows up dead on the playhouse’s stage, everyone is a suspect. Hoping to crack the case are an unlikely pair—the weary veteran detective Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) and his assigned partner, the over-eager and very green Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan).

What works in See How They Run is the lighthearted meta comedy and a myriad of colorful characters. Writer Mark Chappell (Flaked, Bliss) fills the script with clever puns, double entendres, and droll quips which illicit eye-rolls, but oft accompanied by grinning. See How They Run combines historical fact with fiction. The result is an amusing commentary on how whodunit tales are all the same by both challenging and affirming that position at the same time. This works best due to the mix of performances, notably Ronan who proves adept at comedic timing and delivery. It’s typically Stalker who plays the role of audience surrogate. She’s consistently exclaiming that she knows who did it: a tongue-in-cheek poke at viewers who always think they’ve solved the crime with each new piece of information they receive as the movie progresses. This gag works particularly well due to Ronan’s extreme sincerity (and naivety) that she puts into her character.

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Audiences who have reverence for Christie’s works, or prefer their leads to be likable, may not enjoy See How They Run as much as others. To be clear, this film in no way mocks the murder mystery genre, but there is a form satire at play that puts the film in an undefined space between straight comedy and thriller. Said differently, audience members expecting this movie to fall neatly into one of those two aforementioned buckets may be disappointed. Furthermore, Rockwell’s Inspector Stoppard is cardboard. This is likely an artistic decision to provide stark contrast to other performances, but he’s consistently bland, aloof, and off-putting. The lack of charisma or clear skill makes him hard to root for.

See How They Run is a fun variation on familiar tropes. While it may not reinvent the genre, there are enough laugh-out-loud gags and moments to justify a watch. And if anything, it provides a wonderful showcase for Ronan’s multitude of talents.

See How They Run is available exclusively in theaters starting on Friday, September 16th. 

Recommended if you Enjoyed: Death on the Nile, Murder on the Orient Express, Knives Out

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Fox Troilo

Fox serves as an entertainment journalist in the Washington, D.C. When not covering cinematic news for LRM, he critiques films as a member of the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association. Fox also has a Ph.D. in Higher Education and Strategy from Indiana University Bloomington.

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