Glass Onion: Keeping The Mystery Genre Alive

"It's A Dangerous Thing To Mistake Speaking Without Thought For Speaking The Truth." -Benoit Blanc

· 4 min read
group of friends relaxing  in the swimming pool

A lot of mystery films have come and gone without leaving too much of an impact on the audience as the cliche of having mis directions, twists, and turns in order to make the climax that much more engaging is more than overdone.

The formula has run dry and beaten to the ground. So now what should be done to make a mystery film appealing to the audience?

That is where Glass Onion comes into play. The Netflix mystery film keeps all of what makes a mystery film engaging and adds more to it.

The themes of being meta, poking fun at the classic mystery films, and being as connected with the times as possible add more to the enjoyment for the audience as they can now place themselves in the shoes of the detective rather than being limited to just watching the film as a spectator.

Making smart themes dumb

Miles Bron giving the introduction to the mystery game

The brilliance of Glass Onion is exactly what one could describe a literal glass onion as.

The film has layers surrounding each character with their own personal agenda.

The more complex the mystery seems the more clear it is.

If one just ignores the layers to see the character to which everything ties back to the center of the story.

The film does a great job of making the audience spin circles asking the big question: who is the murderer?

Yet the film will never let its audience feel exhausted from keeping up their curiosity.

As it purposefully throws hints and angles that will add more pizzazz to the plot while not giving the answer in a clear-cut fashion.

Miles Bron, the scientist who invited all the characters to his island to enjoy a harmless murder mystery party.

This gave the audience a false expectation.

That they are in store for a film that may revolve around solving a murder mystery within a playful and harmless version of another murder mystery.

However, that expectation was quickly thrown in the dust as the detective, Benoit Blanc, instantly solves the made-up game to address the very real one at hand.

This level of misdirection is what changes the expectations of the viewer from something that can be expected and engaging to something that is unexpected and all the more engaging.

Making fun of predictable twists

a person solving the mystery game in front of everyone

A mystery film that knows how to play with its audience is all the more worth the watch.

Knowing all the cliche tricks and using them all in just one scene is a surefire way to create a brilliant misdirect.

Glass Onion makes sure that the audience knows that the film is going to be self-conscious from the very get-go.

As we are introduced to Benoit Blanc, we observe him playing Among Us in his bathtub, the famous murder mystery game that boomed during the pandemic.

This was to show just how aware the staff behind this film are when it comes to the basic formula for murder mysteries.

Which in turn, lets the audience know that the film will attempt to break the mold that murder mysteries have made for themselves.

What Rian Johnson has done, is completely flip the concept of a murder mystery on itself.

As anyone could have made a sequel to Knives Out with a convoluted plot that revolves around the murder which may or may not have been a suicide.

However, by making the mystery something that can be solved by anyone and not necessarily a detective, it brings a breath of fresh air to the mystery genre.

Once, the culprit is revealed, that is the expected end of a murder mystery, however, that is not the case for this film as it goes above and beyond to give the audience a breath of fresh air by having more to the script than just capturing the killer.  

Not the ending deserved, but one that was earned

portrait of Mona Lisa being engulfed by flames

Unlike many murder mysteries which end with the culprit getting apprehended, Glass Onion again takes it one step further.

As it ends the film by having everything that the murderer has, taken away.

Yet, that does not necessarily entail a satisfactory ending for everyone in the audience.

As the film takes a bold move by removing any and all evidence of what connects the crime to its culprit.

Not to mention, that solving the mystery is the easy part of this plot, it is the process of how will the consequences be bestowed on the murderer that takes the cake.

Changing up the dynamics of how a mystery film functions while still keeping the same thrill and suspense is an astounding accomplishment.

The film makes the mystery genre work in the most non-serious methods to keep things light and fresh.

While keeping the humor balanced and making it work with the darker themes at play, Glass Onion definitely makes it into the list of successful mystery films.

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