2 THE BIG SICK

Empire (Australasia) - - ON SCREEN -

John Nu­gent: In a mas­sive en­sem­ble of gi­ant A-lis­ters, it came as a hugely pleas­ant sur­prise that Ana de Ar­mas (un­til now, best known to English-speak­ing au­di­ences as Ryan Gosling’s holo­gram girl­friend in Blade Run­ner 2049) would play such a piv­otal role in Knives Out — or that the role would pivot around puk­ing. As house­keeper Marta, de Ar­mas is the ve­hi­cle for Rian John­son’s crafti­est plot de­vice: Marta can­not lie, and will vomit at even a hint of false­hood. This is un­de­ni­ably an op­por­tu­nity for glo­ri­ous gross-out silli­ness — the cli­mac­tic pro­jec­tile onto Chris Evans’ sculpted cheek­bones is an ob­vi­ous high­light. But it’s also a clever nod to the au­di­ence, a kind of sto­ry­telling as­sur­ance that no mat­ter how un­trust­wor­thy the Thrombey fam­ily get, you can al­ways trust Marta. John­son clearly in­tended to make a satire on mod­ern Amer­ica that took the piss out of rich peo­ple, but in amongst the snark and smar­tassery, there is also room for gen­tle hu­man­ity and sim­ple hon­est-to-god good­ness. That it comes in the form of a hum­ble, dili­gent, vir­tu­ous work­ing-class im­mi­grant feels as much a com­ment on mod­ern Amer­ica as any­thing else in the film.

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