Arts, Movies

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery Peels Back Layers of a Complex Whodunit

In Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, director Rian Johnson delivers a developed cast of characters and detailed plot that rival the franchise’s original film, Knives Out

The film follows detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), who joins a tight-knit friend group of prominent society figures for a weekend getaway on a private island. Led by billionaire philanthropist Miles Bron (Edward Norton), the friends begin to play a murder mystery game on the island. 

Quickly they’re thrown into a frenzy when someone is actually murdered, and the group has the sudden realization that the murderer is among it. 

Following the legacy of the first film, Glass Onion’s mise-en-scène—the arrangement of actors and scenery in the frame—keeps the viewer engaged and in the dark about who the culprit might be. Johnson orchestrates scenes where each one of the seven potential murder suspects is on screen at once, spread out in a way in which they are all clearly visible. Throughout the entirety of the film none of the seven suspects are ever ruled out, 

The fact that each suspect is present at once gives audience members the chance to keep a close eye on their favorite suspect. Characters’ actions, reactions, and mannerisms might help the viewer look for clues. This element adds to the fun of the mystery, as viewers may feel like they’re solving the murder in real time with detective Blanc. 

The film does not shy away from commentary on stereotypes of billionaire philanthropists and wealthy individuals with savior complexes. These archetypes mirror the traits of real-life billionaires like Elon Musk, who is known to boast about his ambitions to save society. 

Bron serves as a Musk-esque figure in the film. He has multiple successful ventures in a number of different fields and funds his friends’ endeavors, whether they political, scientific, or economic, and social bids for power. 

After watching Glass Onion, one central question came to mind: How many of Bron’s friends are only sticking with him for his money? Throughout the film, Bron proves himself to be selfish, lazy, and outright senseless, and his so-called friends become murder suspects because of their ties to him and his qualities. A caveat is that their connections to him may derive from a desire for his money and not genuine friendship. 

Bron’s business empire parallels Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, as both companies have been interpreted as degrading in quality due to careless decision making. 

Glass Onion is populated by shallow characters who will do anything for money, just like the characters in Knives Out. The difference between the two films is that in Glass Onion, Bron, the film’s main wealthy character, is shallow and apathetic just like the murder suspects. On the contrary, the wealthy family in the original movie was dynamic and revealed redeeming traits as the film—and murder mystery—progressed. 

The film leaves no one off the table as a potential suspect, keeping the mystery involved and engaging.

December 1, 2022