See How They Run

Theatre meets cinema in Tom George’s first feature film

The adaptations of Agatha Christie’s novels for the big screen, including the recent successful films by Kenneth Branagh, sho that her stories will never go out of style. Faithful to this path, but not too much, young director Tom George tries to test himself on a different operation: paying tribute to the writer with a film that is halfway between theatre and cinema, which tells of a murder mystery in a murder mystery.

See How They Run is George’s first feature film, following the BAFTA-winning series This Country and the legal comedy-drama Defending The Guilty, which aired on BBC. Sam Rockwell, Saoirse Ronan, Adrien Brody and David Oyelowo are just some of the actors who star in the cast of the film.

The story is set in the early 1950s in London: Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap celebrates its 100th theatre performance and American director Leo Köpernick tries to persuade producer John Woolf to let him direct a film adaptation. His nonconformist ideas, however, clash with screenwriter Mervin Cocker-Norris’ traditional mindset and his request seems lead nowhere. After having a fistfight with lead actor Richard Attenborough, a drunken Köpernick leaves the place: he will be found dead late at night, on the stage, by the shocked cast members who, in the best Agatha Christie tradition, become potential witnesses, victims and murderers. Inspector Stoppard and Agent Stalker (on guard at the theatre on the night of the murder) are called to solve the case.

See How They Run is a mystery comedy that mixes reality and fiction, at least for what concerns theatre history: The Mousetrap is one of the longest-running shows in the UK and in 1953 it was really on the bill at London’s West End Theatre, with actor Richard Attenborough playing Detective Sergeant Trotter (in the film, portrayed by Harris Dickinson). In George’s film, “reality” mimics art and viceversa, in a continuous transition between the two: if in the original play the actors talk to the audience giving the story a memorable finale, See How They Run follows the same path, but in terms of parody.

The film is enjoyable, but it struggles to find the right tone despite the excellent performances and a good premise.

Directing, scenography and some tributes to remember (such as the dreamlike scene at the bar, inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s Shining) are the film’s strong points.

After its recent UK and US debut, See How They Run hits Italian cinemas on September 29th,  distributed by Searchlight Pictures.




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