La Presse at the 47th TIFF | The irresistible return of Benoit Blanc

(Toronto) The second most anticipated world premiere of this 47e Toronto International Film Festival – after The Fabelmans by Steven Spielberg – was presented to the press on Monday. And Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery does not disappoint. It makes you wonder if its star, Daniel Craig, will end up being known as much for his role as an irresistible Louisiana detective as for that of Agent 007.

Posted at 6:00 a.m.

Benoit Blanc (irresistible Craig) is back, and the eccentric detective once again finds himself at the heart of a joyful story, with multiple twists and turns. We reconnect with him in May 2020 while he is in his bath, pitiful and depressed, playing Clue on Zoom with famous friends, despairing of not being able to solve crimes “in person” during the pandemic.

He receives a mysterious invitation to travel to a private island in the Aegean Sea, off the coast of Greece, to participate in a long weekend “murder mystery” organized by a megalomaniac billionaire named Miles Bron (Edward Norton).

There he accompanies a band of wealthy friends (not his own), self-proclaimed “the troublemakers”, who have been going every year for a decade to an exotic place designated by their billionaire boyfriend. We will understand, as the story progresses, the links that unite them, the nature of their relationship with this famous Mr. Bron and the reasons for the presence on the island of Benoit Blanc.





In the role of the more or less interested friends of Miles Bron, we of course discover a whole new cast of what will undoubtedly become the series of Knives Out : Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Kate Hudson and Dave Bautista. From Rian Johnson’s previous film, only Daniel Craig is back.

The actors took a walkabout late Saturday afternoon on King Street, barely half an hour after a whirlwind appearance on the red carpet by Jennifer Lawrence (whom I saw by chance, coming out of her limousine). Since Monday, the “rue du Festival” has been open to car traffic again. In Toronto, most activity takes place on the first weekend.

Rian Johnson is a regular at TIFF. He presented the first Knives Out in 2019, as well as The Brothers Bloom in 2008 and Looperthe opening film of the festival in 2014.

The register of Glass Onioncloser to rambunctious stuffing, is quite different from Knives Out, camped in the Victorian house of a famous thriller author (Christopher Plummer) where his children, grandchildren and his discreet nurse (Ana de Armas) meet. The film earned Rian Johnson an Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay.

Glass Onion almost has the accents of a James Bond film parody, with its idyllic setting and wacky lines. To the delight of the public. Despite a duration of 2:20, you never get bored for a second. And we gladly excuse Johnson’s delirious scenario from a few inconsistencies. The strings seem less well attached than the first time, but the pleasure increases with use.

According to Rian Johnson, Daniel Craig and Netflix, which bought the distribution rights to the series at a high price, there could be several more episodes to the series. Knives Out, each time with a new plot and new characters. Like the adventures of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, with whom Benoit Blanc certainly shares a distant cousinship.

“I’m going to keep doing it until Daniel blocks my calls,” the filmmaker said on stage after his film premiered in Toronto. On social networks, he also begged the Toronto public, and in particular journalists, to avoid disclosing elements of the plot. There are so many “cameos”, hidden jokes, cinematographic references, that this film is appreciated as a bye Bye of a cinephile. There are surprises every five minutes.

Daniel Craig is equal to himself, Kate Hudson is hilarious in the role of a brainless ex-model who multiplies missteps on social networks and who refuses to comply with health rules. But it’s singer and comedian Janelle Monáe who steals the show, for reasons I can’t reveal. Definitely…

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery will be available on Netflix on December 23, and in theaters around the same time.

Medieval teenage comedy

The creator of the cult series GirlsLena Dunham, presented a charming (without being transcendental) teenage comedy in Toronto on Monday, Catherine called Birdy. The originality of the story lies in this: it takes place in the Middle Ages.


PHOTO PROVIDED BY TIFF

In Catherine called BirdyBella Ramsey plays Birdy while Andrew Scott plays her father.

Catherine, alias Birdy, is a rebellious and insolent 14-year-old girl, soon to be married to a stranger in order to replenish the coffers of her father, an idle, flippant and spendthrift English lord. A situation which, of course, deeply revolts the teenager. The only man who finds favor in her eyes is her 28-year-old uncle, a handsome hero of the Crusades, who falls into the eye of her best friend.

Betrayals, jealousies, cruel remarks, reworked old indie pop songs: all the ingredients of a teen movie are present in this fourth feature film by Lena Dunham, which stands out not for its quirky humor and its feminist subtext, but for its its historical context. Patriarchy and sexism are once again in the crosshairs of the screenwriter, director and producer. This will not surprise admirers of Lena Dunham.

La Presse at the 47th TIFF | The irresistible return of Benoit Blanc