Benoit Blanc's Partners Are What Makes the Knives Out Movie So Good
Helen and Marta breathe life into these detectives.
Both Rian Johnson's Knives Out and its new sequel, Glass Onion, breathed new life into the suspense genre. These films manage to capture the feel of classic Agatha Christie detective stories while maintaining their own modern twist. Our detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) and his quirky but sympathetic approach to puzzles play a big part in this. Yes, he's smart, but he's also invested in his case on a more personal level, which in turn helps us empathize with him and the case as a whole. But Blank is only part of the equation, and it's the characters who become his case-solving partners that are the real magic in these films. Blanc is our detective, but he's not our protagonist. At least in the sense that he offers a solution, he just spells it out.
Blanc is basically static. His job is to enter the story in its entirety, so we can see how he affects the other players. The real transformation we catch is that of his partner in each film. Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas) in "The Revenant" and Helen Brand (Janelle Monáe) in "The Glass Onion" are not only important for uncovering Every film, but as a container in which the central theme of the film is realized. Their journeys and their hearts are why we as viewers feel so much at stake in these stories. In both Knives Out and The Glass Onion, Blank's sidekick is the driving force of the story and the element that makes us care.
'Knives Out's Marta Is Our Point-of-View Character
Marta is a good person and a good nurse. This is the fundamental truth of her character. That's what puts her in a unique position, the only one who can actually shed light on the truth about Harlan's (Christopher Plummer) death in the first film. She is Harlan's caretaker and his only real friend, the only one who seems to care about him without asking for anything in return. Marta's selflessness is both a blessing and a curse, she's kind, but she's also too trusting. That's why Ransom (Chris Evans), Meg (Katherine Langford), and the entire family are able to manipulate her so easily because she's told she's "like family" to them and believes They mean it. She is our point of view character for most of the film, so we sympathize with her, even though we Believe it as much as she does, she is responsible for Harlan's death. Everyone else in the film seems largely unwilling or unable to change. Ransom pretends that he has found clarity and is free from greed, but this is only an appearance. Marta stands out not only because of her unique affinity for telling the truth, but also because she takes it seriously. She wanted to clear her name, but once her life was in danger, she gave in. She's not the type to be willing to hurt others for her own gain, and that's what really sets her apart from the Thrombey family.
Marta Refuses to Play the Thrombey's Game
The family used Marta's status as caretaker, employee, immigrant, and child of illegal immigrants to manipulate her. They would switch between insulting her and alienating her to calling her a "family member" on a whim based on what they needed from her at any given time. But her relationship with Blanc is also a fascinating one. Their interaction is fraught with Marta's anxiety, as she is completely convinced of her guilt even after Blanc discovers the truth. even if she (unsuccessfully) Trying to cover up the investigation, she actually spent the same amount of time helping. Her innate goodness led her to eventually find the toxicology report proving her innocence. We've been watching, not just because we want to unravel the mystery, but because we've come to care for Marta and want to see her (and family) get what she deserves. Marta embodies the destruction of the old system of power and corruption, the greed of a bunch of nepotistic babies interrupted by the hard work of a nurse. With Blanc's help, she's able to claim this new territory for herself, not through guile, or even being particularly clever, but by refusing to play the game everyone else is trying to make her play. She sticks to her beliefs and wins in the end, just like she did when she and Harun played Go.
'Glass Onion's Helen Is the Real Disruptor
Helen Brand is the only real spoiler on Miles Brown's (Edward Norton) island. As Blanc keeps saying in Glass Onion, he's just a detective. He can shed light on the truth, but what to do with it is largely out of his hands. but Helen is willing to disrupt, not just the things people are already tired of, but the system itself. Helen is an outsider. She is neither famous nor rich, just a teacher, a woman who cares deeply about her sister. She's not meant to be an action star in the film, but her conviction and unwavering sense of right and wrong keep her safe through the snake pit she finds herself in. Although we don't notice her until halfway through the film, Helen is the heart and soul of Glass Onion. It was her love for her sister that drove her to do what others wouldn't, and to bring down Miles. Everyone else was willing to see Miles' crimes another way, whether it was murder or willingly turning people's homes into hydrogen bombs, and even Blank set her own boundaries and left everything to her. Helen would not have succeeded if she hadn't been so determined, but like Marta, she is a woman who sticks to what she believes in till the end, and that's why she succeeds. Blank solves the case, but Helen finally gets justice for Miles.
Helen Not only because of Janelle Monáe's performance but because of the flames that keep her going. She doesn't want to see the so-called "sabotage" burn for her own gratification, and she comes into her own while working with Blank, and (as he points out) turns out to be very good at the whole espionage operation. When Helen seeks help from Benoit Blanc, she is timid and fearful of danger, and rightfully so. So strong is her conviction, however, that by the end of the film, she not only survives the shooting, but single-handedly destroys Miles Brown. Of course, her investigation of Blank is what got her to this position in the first place, but no one, not even Whiskey, whose boyfriend lost to Bron, nor Claire, who fully understood what Claire could do, and Lionel, and no one even Blanc is willing to take the last step and take matters into his own hands. Helen is. She's a character we root for, and even when she's rushing across the room to set the Mona Lisa on fire, we know she's doing what needs to be done, breaking what needs to be done Broke and finally got things right. Without Helen, the climax of the film could have been another crisp parlor, but her presence adds a personal stake to the conflict, requiring a larger response. Helen burns down the place, and we revel in it, because these movies are not just about answering detective questions, but about destroying the status quo that leads to murder.
Marta and Helen Deconstruct Power Structures
Helen adds so much dimension to the film in the same way Marta did. Both were the closest to the victim, someone with a huge personal stake in the cracking of the case, but they were also outsiders. This stance makes them all vulnerable, but it also makes them capable of rebellion. They are not supported by the power system that controls other characters, Harlan and Miles' wealth is irrelevant to them, so they are willing to subvert and destroy the power system that others are not willing to. Both the Thrombeys and the "Shitheads" rely on established systems of wealth and power to maintain their influence, but Marta and Helen stand their ground, Being able to strip away the cloak of protection that wealth provides exposes these people for who they really are, allowing them to finally face the consequences of what they have done.
The themes of subverting power structures and systems of wealth and privilege are carried out in their own way by women of color who refuse to bow to the system. Although they have transformed and become their own people by the end of the film, what makes Marta and Helen who they are remains the same. Instead of being transformed and intimidated by powerful forces against them, they become realistic and confident in the face of it. Their unwillingness to compromise on what they believe in and to play the game the way they're told is the key to their success. The mysteries of the stories are interesting in their own right, but the real emotional stakes are revealed in the final shots of both films: Marta and Helen, both safe from their triumphs, look toward their new futures.