‘See How They Run’: a humorous, captivating whodunit

4 out of 5 stars

“See How They Run” is like a mystery novel on the big screen, with dry humor dominating the original screenplay. The self-aware whodunit — as the new film identifies itself to the audience — is a 1950s mystery saturated with popular culture history, namely esteemed crime fiction author Agatha Christie.

Following the recipe of the classic murder mystery, the film opens at a party celebrating the 100th running of a London theater production of Christie’s “The Mousetrap.” Members of the production are introduced narration-style by Leo Köpernick (Adrian Brody), an American director set to direct a film adaptation of the popular play.

But the party abruptly ends when Köpernick is found dead on the theater stage, posed sitting on a couch. Everyone in attendance becomes a suspect, launching an investigation led by the seasoned Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) and zealous Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan). The duo interrogates the eccentric show-business partygoers one-by-one, uncovering theories for the audience to consider for themselves.

Ronan carries the film, effectively embodying a thorough and slightly awkward war widow weeks away from taking her sergeant’s exam. The constable’s impressionable nature during the investigation makes for an engaging viewing experience; the audience can’t help but follow her theories. Stalker is balanced out by the mellow and calculated Stoppard, a divorced and slightly disheveled inspector who acts indifferent to his more ambitious counterpart.

The theories the pair explore are surface level, with attention to motive over ability, and the audience only sees what Stalker and Stoppard see during their investigation. While it feels true to the experience of an investigator, it misses some depth by the ending. The film has a neat-and-tidy finish that audiences should see coming, but I was left wanting more from the events leading up to the opening murder — and more from the ensemble cast.

Harris Dickinson (“The King’s Man”), Ruth Wilson (“True Things”), David Oyelowo (“Selma”) and Sian Clifford (“Fleabag”) are just some of the quirky entertainment industry characters whose limited screentime left me wanting more — and they would have had the time. The nearly 100-minute film did not feel long.

“See How They Run” director Tom George has a short list of credits, but this entertaining mystery-comedy is a recommendable watch that is sure to put him on the film industry map.

Photo courtesy of imdb.com.