See How They Run  (12A) Close-Up Film Review

Dir. Tom George, US, 2022, 98 mins

Cast:  Sam Rockwell, Saoirse Ronan, Adrien Brody

Review by Carol Allen

Director Tom George and writer Mark Chappell had a brilliant idea for a movie here.  Inspired by the fact that a film has never been made of Agatha Christie’s hit play The Mousetrap due to a clause in the contract that says no movie can be made until six months after the play closes (and it famously of course has never closed), they created their own hopefully comic murder mystery.  Set in London in the fifties, its premise is that an attempt to make a film of the play is thwarted when the film’s director is murdered. George has also assembled a first class cast for his feature film debut – but sadly the resulting film is dire. 

The murder victim Leo Köpernick (Adrien Brody) is bumped off during a party to celebrate the play’s 100th performance.  Brought in to investigate are Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell), whose name is the best joke in the movie (for those who remember the Tom Stoppard play featuring Inspector Hound).  Most of the other attempts at jokes fall flat and lifeless, murdered indeed.

 He is assisted by rookie constable Stalker, played by Saoirse Ronan, doing her valiant best to keep the action moving along.  Rockwell however, who can be brilliant, looks here as though he’s given up on both the case and the film before it even gets going. 

He’s not the only good actor to go astray here though.  David Oyelowo, normally nothing less than excellent, looks wildly uncomfortable and miscast as the somewhat camp writer of the putative film.

Talented up and coming Harris Dickinson is cast as Dickie Attenborough, who was the star of The Mousetrap at that time.  He has a good crack at Dickie’s voice but it was to say the least perverse to cast a 6 foot plus tall actor to play a man whom in real life even I, at a mere 5’2”, could look straight in the eye.  Pearl Chanda as his wife and co-star Sheila Sim also looks nothing like the very English rose original. 

But then casting actors with a vague resemblance to the real life people they are playing obviously isn’t George’s policy.   The nearest the film comes to that is a telling cameo from Shirley Henderson as Agatha Christie near the end of the film – but it’s too late by then to save it. 

Other first class actors struggling to make something of the script include Ruth Wilson and Reece Shearsmith.  Brody, as the brash director, probably comes off best, spending most of the film dead and narrating voice over from the beyond.

See How They Run was shot during the empty days of London’s West End during lockdown when theatres were closed, so the film makers had a wealth of deserted playhouses for their locations.   St Martin’s, where The Mousetrap still plays, stands in at times for The Ambassadors, where the play first opened in 1952, but several other London theatres were used for different scenes.  Keen theatre goers could have some fun trying to spot which scenes were filmed in The Dominion, the Old Vic and even Hoxton Hall.