Review by Luke Bradley
See How They Run (Tom George, 2022) launches straight into its ‘whodunnit’ narrative. Scored by the narration of Adrien Brody’s hot-shot director Leo Köpernick, he criticises the ‘second-rate murder-mysteries’ of the 1950s. ‘It’s a whodunnit; you see one, you’ve seen them all’, Köpernick laments. Opening with such a brazenly self-referential statement is seriously tempting fate. However, thanks to assured direction, whip-smart writing, and an embarrassment of excellent performances, See How They Run quickly alleviates such fears.
The film is certainly bolstered by a wide array of talented supporting actors – the aforementioned Adrien Brody, David Oyelowo, Ruth Wilson and Harris Dickinson (who is especially charming as breakthrough actor ‘Dickie’ Attenborough). However, the film is largely fuelled by dual-leads Saoirse Ronan and Sam Rockwell. While the ‘earnest rookie/alcoholic veteran’ dynamic is hardly original territory, Ronan and Rockwell turn in terrific performances that elevate good writing to greatness. Ronan is especially natural, and – in a rare but deeply enjoyable twist – is sporting her own natural accent. Mark Chappell’s screenplay is filled with witty one-liners and recurring gags, none of which lose muster throughout the film’s breezy runtime. See How They Run’s sharp dialogue and meta tone is a feast for its actors and, fortunately for the film, everybody’s game.
There is a notable elephant in the room that’s worth addressing – See How They Run feels strikingly like a Wes Anderson film. It’s a fascinating stylistic choice, and especially interesting to note considering this is director Tom George’s big screen directorial debut. Comedic camera tilts, symmetrical framing, interwoven musical beats (from Daniel Pemberton’s wonderfully overdramatic score) and a cheeky disobedience of the 180-degree rule are all present. While it would be a disservice to call this ‘Wes Anderson-lite’, there is a fair basis for comparison. Those averse to the stylings of Anderson, or deeply protective of them, may find this grating. Yet, be it ‘derivative’ or not, this approach lends itself well to the light and zippy nature of the film. The ‘murder-mystery’ genre is heavily oversaturated, and in a post-Knives Out (Rian Johnson, 2019) world there are some mighty high standards to reach for. While See How They Run may fall slightly short of such comparisons, it’s a charming and wildly entertaining addition to the genre, and an assured debut from George. “Second-rate murder-mystery”? Most definitely not.