Film review by Jason Day of See How They Run, a farce set in 1950’s West End theatre land in London where a antagonistic playwright is done to death. Starring Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan, directed by Tom George.
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A boorish and deeply unpopular screenwriter hired to adapt the popular West End play The Mousetrap is found dead on stage. Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) and wet-behind-the-ears Police Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan) are called in to investigate, comically questioning the rogues gallery of theatrical suspects.
Review, by @Reelreviewer
Have you got enough coal?
Yes, Sir. Three bags full, Sir.A master quizzes his butler about the house heating.
‘May the farce be with you!’ could have been the tagline to this refreshingly different addition to the usual multiplex fare of superhero blockbusters if Mel Brooks hadn’t snaffled it for his Star Wars spoof Spaceballs (1987).
Witty, well-cast and adult entertainment, See How They Run is as sublime and fabulous a film as you can get. It’s great on the ear and the eye and has a star cast to make other film producers pea green with envy.
The script sparkles and pays homage to the classic theatrical farce (banging doors, loud exclamations, mistaken identities) and lampoons how ridiculous they are.
Rockwell almost always gives a superb performance in films, and his determined, details led Inspector is no exception. He also gets an extra tick for his impeccable English accent.
He makes one half of a hugely entertaining duo, complemented by Ronan as his wet-behind-the-ears partner, forever scribbling the most minute detail into her notepad, mostly involving how to act as a professional police officer. This is a rare, full comedy role, and how effective and fun she is might be related to another rare chance she has been afforded in her films – to act in her native Irish accent.
Harris Dickinson enjoys himself enormously as the real-life luvvie par excellence Richard ‘Dickie’ Attenborough, who starred in the original run of The Mousetrap that is the backdrop of this film. The strapping lad looks nothing like the real-life man, but Dickinson still has lots of fun with the accent, rolling the dialogue around his mouth with glee.
Theatrical symbolism and nods to Christie’s work abound. Aside from the real-life personalities played by Shirley Henderson (as Agatha Christie), Dickinson, Pearl Chanda as Attenborough’s wife Sheila Sim, Ruth Wilson as Petula Spencer (a take on Mousetrap financial backer Peter Saunders) and Reece Shearsmith as film producer Sir John Woolf, Rockwell’s character has playwright Tom’s surname.
He also questions someone from Belgium (an allusion to Christie’s most famous creation, Hercule Poirot) and the suspect played by David Oyelowo lives in the building used to film Poirot’s house in the UK TV series starring David Suchet.
If you are a fan of Agatha Christie’s writing or whodunnits in general, keep your ears fully attuned to the blissful script and action.
Cast & credits
Director: Tom George. 1hr 38mins/98 mins. Searchlight Pictures/DJ Films. (12a).
Producers: Gina Carter, Damian Jones.
Writer: Mark Chappell.
Camera: Jamie Ramsay.
Music: Daniel Pemberton.
Sets: Amanda McArthur.
Sam Rockwell, Saoirse Ronan, Adrien Brody, Ruth Wilson, Reece Shearsmith, Harris Dickinson, Charlie Cooper, Pippa Bennett-Walker, Pearl Chanda, Sian Clifford, Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, David Oyelowo.