See How They Run – Film Review
See How They Run is tremendous fun to watch as another recent whodunit film destined to revolutionise this formulaic genre. It is a humorous, meta take on the whodunit structure established by notable writers such as Agatha Christie as well as a homage to the arts circle in London, that it subtly critiques, as the action unfolds within a theatre during a run of The Mousetrap. Expect some laugh out loud moments as See How They Run is unafraid to mock itself too and displays an impressive array of talent with riveting chemistry between Saoirse Ronan and Sam Rockwell as the unassuming, comedic but seemingly clumsy investigative interlopers. See How They Run is an innovative, enjoyable watch with some Wes Anderson type of quirks which will tantalise and mesmerise audiences with its storytelling, slapstick antics and intriguing visual edits in the hands of the effective, first-time feature director Tom George.
On its face, See How They Run has a simple premise with a murder mystery at its heart. However, there are delicious theatrical dramatics to observe during its runtime which resemble the performances of the theatre actors and the politics of the stage. The film’s structure also permits in-jokes to unfold concerning the film industry as a film adaptation of the theatre production is underway. There is a stylistic flourish to the events unfolding within the film and the cast under George’s direction embody this element.
See How They Run imbues this style within its settings too with a stunning Art Deco bar in which the theatre and film ensemble gather, visits to the Savoy and stylish offices. Simply put, See How They Run oozes glamour within its 1950s setting. Such glamour provides a contrast to some of London’s hidden, inner city alleyways providing an insight to the class divisions, society’s upper echelons and a marked distinction between the working class and the theatrical and film circles. It is a riveting visual review of London’s theatre district and the film studios too to delight many film and theatre fans. But, London’s underbelly is still there to witness between the cracks of the veneer of the chattering classes. See How They Run’s selling point is its embrace of those theatrical nuances with aplomb. As such, some over the top theatrics combined with an exploration of that collision between the film and theatre is fascinating to observe. The film depicts this merger of these similar but different disciplines as an unholy alliance, which provides an intriguing discussion point regarding the ambitions, goals and viewpoints of the different media surrounding us.
Indeed, it is this insightful but tension fuelled interaction between the worlds of the theatre luvvies re-enacting The Mousetrap and the film aficionados that sets See How They Run apart from its whodunit peers such as Knives Out. The obvious difference being that See How They Run is meta and self-aware with voiceovers and split screens depicting foreshadowing which continuously entertain. See How They Run is that chaotic caper story that will leave audiences grinning from ear to ear.
George directs Saoirse Ronan’s enthusiastic, naive and slightly irritating Constable Stalker effortlessly against the world weary Inspector Stoppard, who seems like a younger Columbo, peppered with knowing winks within a police microcosm where they reference each other by the titles of ‘Constable’, ‘Sergeant’ and ‘Commissioner’ evoking those pantomime vibes from the days of Punch and Judy where PC Plod would clumsily chasing his culprit. We can therefore resonate with Stalker and her clumsy attempts to resolve the inquiry which may reflect our own thoughts about the potential suspects and so there is that glee in experiencing the mystery vicariously. See How They Run embodies that British pantomime but cheeky spirit and evokes that nostalgia associated with the 50s era in which it is set.
The film is therefore equally traditional but modern in its approach with innovative twists, turns and red herrings to keep the audience enthralled. See How They Run also draws out magnetic performances from David Oyelowo, Harris Dickinson and Adrien Brody in a terrific display of film and theatrical one-upmanship. Whilst See How They Run alludes to the impressive penmanship of Agatha Christie and remains faithful to the dynamics within The Mousetrap, devotees of that play need not be worried as the play’s secret remains intact. See How They Run equally implores its audience to remain complicit in its secret finale and will therefore prove to be that winning formula for director George with its amusingly charming tale.