Glass Onion – Knives Out

The huge glass onion that towers over the island where it takes place Glass Onion – Knives Out is evidently a fairly elementary metaphor. It is the highest point of a structure that represents many things: the palace of a powerful man, a luxury resort for an elite clan, a scenographic fiction to indulge the boss’s ego, the allegorical representation of the relationship between the landlord and his guests. The many layers that make up the glass onion are transparent, so what is inside is also visible from the outside, yet it manages to hide its center while remaining in full view.

An easy ploy, but functional to the fruition of this large and popular film, which chooses an image with a strong impact – and with it its signifier – capable of representing three fundamental themes of the film: the puzzle, friendship, the elite .

All very evident, despite Ryan Johnson persisting in complicating the matter even just for the duty of offering a mystery in itself – let’s face it – it’s less yellow than it wants to be. More than a homage it seems a bit intellectual and a bit nerdy parody of the genre, more than the previous one Dinner with crimewhich adapts three topoi: the sumptuous location isolated from the world, the choir of suspects obviously linked to each other, the detective who must prove himself worthy of his fame.

In this second adventure of his, Benoit Blanc (archetypal figure, elegant and renowned investigator, almost out of time and space, who confides in video chat with the late Angela Lansbury and Stephen Sondheim: what a pleasure, Daniel Craig) finds himself unknown good because among the guests of a weekend with a crime organized by one of the richest men in the world on a Greek island of his property. The historical moment makes the event even more exclusive: we are, in fact, in May 2020, in the world that has just been overwhelmed by the pandemic.

Kathryn Hahn, Madelyn Cline, Edward Norton, Leslie Odom Jr. and Kate Hudson in Glass Onion – Knives Out (credits: John Wilson/Netflix © 2022)

With a sarcastic and mocking spirit, Johnson stages the difference between the normal world and the super-privileged who, during the various confinements, have not changed their habits or perspectives. From here to grant the author the gallons of agit prop it takes and, indeed, it seems to us that this criticism of the excesses of a careless and self-referential social class is entirely consistent with the inclusive and progressive image that Netflix (which distributes the film at Christmas after a quick visit to theaters) intends to give of itself.

So much so that in the roster of exponents of this elite, i.e. the guests at the weekend of the tycoon of an undefined Alpha (Edward Norton eyeing Elon Musk), there is a rampant politician, a brilliant scientist, a former model now a stylist, a male chauvinist social star: all at the service of capitalism, all reprehensible in their own way also because they are totally submissive to the more than charismatic financial power of their billionaire friend.

Sort of a pop variant of Triangle of Sadness riding the trend of class struggle, glass onion it looks like the refined and flamboyant version of a cinepanettone: the tourist destination, the transversal cast, the jokes that wink at the news, the brilliant system, the cameos of the stars (Hugh Grant, Ethan Hawke, Yo-Yo, Serena Williams). A provocation, all right, but it is in measuring the political scope at the level of a broad and popular comedy that this film works best, which resembles a Cluedo for beginners (we will not reveal anything but the relationship between Blanc and his client is indicative , almost an education to solve a case).

Glass Onion – Knives Out