"Knives Out" is a cozy little mystery movie, but it's also a story that's deeply interested in the political discourse of its time. Set in the long-ago pre-pandemic days of 2019, the movie treats us early on to a party conversation between a bunch of Thrombey family members that suddenly gets political. Some of the Thrombeys are Trump supporters who support his controversial immigration policies, and some of them are liberals who find his policies unforgivable.

Although the Thrombeys are far wealthier than the average viewer, this conversation is still awfully familiar to a lot of Americans, who often have to spend holiday celebrations figuring out how to peacefully interact with family members with vastly different political beliefs. Although "Knives Out" doesn't take place on Thanksgiving, it is set in New England during the fall, so the Thanksgiving vibes are there; for director/writer Rian Johnson, that connection was 100% intentional.

"'Knives Out,' it's about politics. It's really about a family arguing about politics, and it's about what politics does to your Thanksgiving dinners," Johnson explained in an interview with GQ. "What happens when somebody you grew up loving suddenly supports something politically that you find abhorrent? And it's about the personal side of that."

Watching Those Political Differences Melt Away

With most family gatherings, one typically hopes that the love within the family will be enough to overcome those political divisions. That's sort of what happens in "Knives Out," although it's not the Thrombeys' love for each other that does it. These characters may seem to hate each other for their liberal, conservative, or (in the case of Jaeden Martell's Jacob) alt-right views, but those differences melt away the moment their wealth is at risk. Even the pro-immigrant Thrombeys have little qualms about threatening to get Marta's mother deported if it helps them win back their inheritance.

This is how "Knives Out" captures that feeling of betrayal that can come during Thanksgiving political arguments. Just as one wonders how someone they've known their whole lives can support something politically "abhorrent," the movie confronts us with the fact that someone as friendly and seemingly-reasonable as Meg (Katherine Langford) is capable of betraying Marta so easily.

Yes, the idea of a hypothetical rich person doing something like this is understandable, but Marta's known Meg for years. They've become friends who have inside jokes and secrets they trust each other with. We'd expect the other family members to weaponize the immigration status of Marta's mother against her, but Meg being the one to let the information slip is what really stings. It's a moment that puts a lot of strain on a once-close relationship, and one that proves class status (especially for white people) will often take precedence over a moral opinion … and maybe people like this, so easily swayed, deserve to lose their undeserved inheritance.

A Story Firmly Set In 2019

Just as "Glass Onion" is set clearly in the middle of 2020, "Knives Out" is a movie that pretty much could only have been made in the middle of the Trump administration. The Thrombeys' debate over immigrant kids in cages is the same debate Americans were having all over the country at that point, and Marta's concerns over her mother's immigration tie into all of that perfectly. Rian Johnson wasn't just making a movie about politics ruining Thanksgiving; he was making a movie about 2019 politics ruining a 2019 Thanksgiving.

This was one of the many choices Johnson made out of inspiration from Agatha Christie. Although many adaptations of Christie's works are period pieces, Johnson's often noted that Christie was always writing in her modern day. In response, Johnson set his "Knives Out" movies "right here and right now," with zero attempt to keep things "timeless." As he told GQ, "we're gonna talk about exactly what everyone is talking about right now."

Johnson has spoken in the past about how each movie in this franchise will follow Christie's footsteps and be a completely different take on the murder mystery genre. Besides Daniel Craig as Detective Blanc, one of the only constants in the series is that each movie will have something to say about contemporary politics, regardless of whether that makes the movie feel a little dated down the line.

Read this next: 20 Underrated Comedy Movies You Need To Watch

The post Rian Johnson Wrote Knives Out About 'What Politics Does To Your Thanksgiving Dinner' appeared first on /Film.