The recent addition of the movie “At loggerheads“in the Netflix catalog, to prepare the ground for the release of its sequel”Glass Onion“, had once again made it possible to put into perspective one of the most obvious obsessions of Rian Johnson’s cinema: his relationship to time. Because all the stories of the father of “Brig” and “Looper” most often free themselves from the present time to better perpetually question the truths taken for granted. Understand: through the stories staged by Rian Johnson, the stability of reality appears precarious, at least ephemeral. We must, however, the viewer to rely on a reality to continue the adventure; however, here the truth is hidden somewhere within the flashbacks and other flash-forwards, of which it is essential to realize the sum to apprehend the present from the right angle. Little deduction game well known to whodunits that Johnson struggles to triturate and deconstruct to the breaking point in “Glass Onion“. This new investigation by private detective Benoît Blanc, still embodied with phlegm and fantasy by Daniel Craig, does not, however, aim for cerebrality or excessive mastery. Rian Johnson indeed continues the entertaining vein of “At loggerheads“while accenting with”Glass Onion“appearance” device “.
The structure is therefore intended to be as childish as its denouement will prove to be partly twisted.. Handpicked relatives find themselves invited by a megalomaniac billionaire (Miles Bron, played by Edward Norton) on a private Greek island, the scene of a role-playing game in the form of a police investigation. All equally dependent on the nabob’s fortune, the extremely wealthy hosts find it difficult to hide the enmity they harbor towards this self-proclaimed genius. Invited too but supposedly by mistake, Benoît Blanc seems to ignore the reason for his presence in this settling of scores which does not quite say its name yet. But the masks and pretenses will of course soon fall off or fade – thanks to the sense of deduction (or not) of the famous investigator.
“Glass Onion“is one of its strengths a story with a rather jubilant fluidity and elasticity – at least in its first half. Even if a certain weariness sets in fairly quickly – the fault of a camera on a deserted island that is a little too well oiled and snoring – the feature film sometimes juggles quite admirably with the different characters and subplots. While proving more schematized Cluedo still than its elder, “Glass Onion” does not refuse any conjuring. The movements of the apparatus are thus shown to be as operatic as the protagonists are overwhelmed by the most baroque archetypes. As dazzlingly empty as its owner, the island and his residence resemble a kind of game video or to a parallel reality emptied of all essence – hello the metaverse Each parcel of this space shines as much with a thousand fires as it oozes nothingness, and somewhere death. Improbable and impossible mix of the most prestigious ancient and contemporary works of art (Koons, Rothko, Matisse, Degas, Van Gogh, Leonardo da Vinci…), this world exudes a most laughable delusion of grandeur – a probable snub to the bloated postmodernism of pseudo-visionaries a la Elon Musk. Timorous witnesses and unable to stop this machinery, the guests seem condemned to consent to the intolerable. Except that Rian Johnson introduces among them a kind of Gremlins waiting for only one thing: to mock and mystify stupidity to blow up everything.
We could underline the political issues targeted by the director: among other things, ridiculing the false billionaire prophets who dream of being masters of the world (GAFAM, NATU, etc.), or even pointing the finger in a certain way at the Dantesque Pandora’s box that has remained open since me too. But “Glass Onion” shines more for its disheveled spectacle than for any progressive resolution, however distilled here and there. Here, Rian Johnson deliberately borders on self-parody by very quickly deconstructing what initially appears to be intricate – the scene of the box being pulverized instead of the puzzles to be solved speaks volumes for this title. Everything that the filmmaker installs a priori patiently and meticulously shatters from one second to the next. As if the investigation itself took on the factitious and artificial character of the island. Except that the director builds something implicitly, even when he pretends otherwise. So many overlapping mise en abyme, even if it means flirting clearly with satirical comedy. So ultimately in this game of bowling, even the personalities of the protagonists mutate and mix along the way.
Agatha Christie, Jessica Fletcher… all sorts of pop-culture thriller references intertwine to further confuse the issue even more, until Benoît Blanc evaporates, or almost too. Like his characters, Rian Johnson therefore hesitates between genius and vast humbug. All “Glass Onion“, from its fragmented structure between past and present to its prefabricated island, is only akin to that: a diagram or a device, prefigured from the start by the mysterious boxes received by the various guests. There is no doubt that the film, come to think of it, has a very rich system. However, the very artificiality of its concept – a caustic allegory – ends up turning against itself and plunging the viewer, no doubt too accustomed to these sleight of hand, into indifference. Too bad, because all these shimmering materials, accompanied by an effective if not magnetic cast (Janelle Monae, Kate Hudson, Daniel Craig, Edward Norton…) and vibrant cameos (including Angela Lansbury, Noah Segan or even Joseph Gordon-Levitt), would have could have given rise to a more substantial and less futile work.
Available on Netflix, “Glass Onion” is the second part of the adventures of private detective Benoît Blanc. A sequel is particularly to be expected given the success of this feature film by Rian Johnson.