London’s West End Theatre district – Theatreland! – doesn’t usually get much screen time. But See How They Run is set to change that.
In cinemas from tomorrow, 9 September, this starry, big-budget murder mystery has wowed film critics, with four stars in from the Guardian, Telegraph, Empire and more.
The movie features a great cast, starring Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan, with David Oyelowo, Adrien Brody and Ruth Wilson. Also featuring are Harris Dickinson, Shirley Henderson, Sian Clifford, Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, Reece Shearsmith, Charlie Cooper, Pippa Bennett-Warner and Paul Chahidi.
The movie opens outside the Ambassadors Theatre in 1953, where Agatha Christie’s long-running play The Mousetrap has just completed its 100th performance. Just before the curtain goes up, a telegram from Agatha explains that she won’t be able to make the party after all, and ten minutes later someone is dead in the dressing room…
See How They Run is a clever film that sets its action against the backdrop of The Mousetrap but without giving the long-running play’s plot away. Filmmakers have long been banned from making a movie version of The Mousetrap – due to Agatha Christie putting two clever clauses in the play’s contract, to protect the plot of the show. First, the cast ask the audience at the end of every performance to to keep the plot a secret; and second, any movie company who wants to adapt the play into a film is told they must wait until the conclusion of its run, which hasn’t come yet in 70 years, given that it opened in 1952!
See How They Run is in cinemas from 9 September 2022.
The Mousetrap reviews
"Agatha Christie spoof scampers through 50s theatreland"
"This likable whodunnit comedy sees Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan on the trail of high-camp crime in the original production of The Mousetrap"
"... this comedy is a relief. It’s a likably silly and relentlessly camp whodunnit spoof from screenwriter Mark Chappell, centred on Agatha Christie’s long-running play The Mousetrap, and an imagined brutal homicide that took place backstage in its London West End theatre in 1953 – when the production was a mere 100 performances old."
"This is a disposable film with no pretensions, entirely without the deadly seriousness with which Agatha Christie is now adapted. I’d like to see Rockwell and Ronan reunited for a complete new detective franchise, our two cop heroes perhaps encountering Dorothy L Sayers and Ngaio Marsh."
"Playful Agatha Christie romp is as sweet and light as a fondant fancy"
"Saoirse Ronan comes out on top in an ensemble comedy awash in giddy, well-intentioned fun"
"It’s an equal-parts concoction of Rian Johnson’s wry, self-aware Knives Out and the aristocratic romanticism of Kenneth Branagh’s Agatha Christie adaptations"
"... somehow – and almost against odds – See How They Run is a real pleasure to consume"
"See How They Run marks the directorial debut of Tom George, the man behind all three seasons of the BBC mockumentary This Country. He’s carried over the same ethos here – hand a strong cast a set of well-defined characters and let them run wild"
"London’s West End, 1953. At a party to celebrate the 100th performance of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, Hollywood film director Leo Köpernick (Adrien Brody), hired to shoot a big-screen adaptation, is murdered. Enter world-weary Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) and greenhorn WPC Stalker (Saoirse Ronan) to find the killer among the British theatre glitterati."
"It works better as a weird relationship movie than a murder-mystery but See How They Run is the whodunnit as hoot, with lots of laughs, oodles of style and played with verve by a quality cast. It also reconfirms Saoirse Ronan as a comedy god."
"A delightfully absurd Mousetrap send-up that has its cheese and eats it"
"Director Tom George's star-studded, knowing, very funny new whodunit does for Agatha Christie what Scream did for the slasher movie"
"Mark Chappell’s script has a refreshingly high laugh-rate as these things go, with a seam of pure English silliness that sets it well apart from Knives Out, without gunning for anything like that league of plot ingenuity. It’s closer, really, to doing for Christie what Scream did for the slasher flick – goosing the formula with winks and tickles."
"It’s a whizzy fairground ride in theatreland, powered entirely by the thought of a literary icon spinning in her grave."
"Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan in Lifeless Riff on Agatha Christie"
"Adrien Brody, David Oyelowo and Ruth Wilson also appear in this 1950s-set ensemble comedy, a whodunit framed against the 100th West End performance of 'The Mousetrap.'"
"Its chief merit is the rare opportunity it provides Saoirse Ronan to showcase her skills with bubbly comedy, making her the standout in a ridiculously overqualified ensemble. But despite the promise of that title, this wheezing romp slows to a limp."
"Perhaps the tourists who are still rolling up to see The Mousetrap in London will get a kick out of the nods here to the production’s long history — Richard Attenborough and his wife Sheila Sim really were part of the original cast, and the film’s title actually comes from Christie’s radio play template, Three Blind Mice. But naming a key character after playwright Tom Stoppard, whose The Real Inspector Hound was a far more inventive and slyly humorous riff on The Mousetrap, does no one any favors"
"Saoirse Ronan shines in wickedly funny whodunnit"
"The new film from This Country director Tom George lovingly sends up murder mystery tropes with riotously entertaining results."
"If Knives Out was a modern reimagining of a classic Christie tale, then See How They Run goes one step further by directly – and affectionately – poking fun at the tropes inherent in the murder mystery genre, all against the backdrop of one of the prolific novelist's most iconic works."
"Mark Chappell's sharp script doesn't miss a beat, with some of the more meta moments proving especially successful, and the uniformly game cast elevates the material at every opportunity. Put simply, it's one of the most purely enjoyable films of the year."
"Elsewhere there are fun, scenery-chewing performances from David Oyelewo as the aforementioned screenwriter and Harris Dickinson as a young Richard Attenborough, while Brody brings great gravitas to the role of Köpernick – a rather odious egotist who gets to deliver some of the best lines in the film."
"Saoirse Ronan and Sam Rockwell Team Up for a Snappy Retro-Kitsch Murder Comedy"
"A performance of Agatha Christie's long-running stage smash 'The Mousetrap' yields a backstage murder mystery of its own in this most enjoyable all-star comedy."
"Despite Rockwell and Ronan’s hilarious turns, they’re nearly outshone by a small cameo from Shirley Henderson playing the great Dame Agatha herself, who becomes tangled in this web of lies and fools. At last, Christie has an opening to prove she can save her own neck. But what she does, how she does it, and whether it works is a mystery best to discover on the screen."
"This meta-mystery showcases Saoirse’s comedy chops to perfection"
"It’s a knowing joy"
"Set in London’s West End, See How They Run is being given a big push by Disney, who want to sell it as the next Knives Out. It’s not quite as weighty (or plausible) as Rian Johnson’s whodunnit, but on the plus side, it’s a gazillion times smarter and wittier than Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile, offers a puzzle worth solving and is super-cosy. Despite seeing it in a miserably cold screening room, I felt snug as a bug throughout."
"You don’t need to have seen The Mousetrap, by the way (or remember who did what, at the end) to follow what’s going on. That said, you’ll get an extra kick out of the proceedings if you view Christie as a genius. Via its hero’s name, See How They Run signals that it’s part of a tradition of meta-mysteries, i.e. Tom Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound. But unlike Stoppard, scriptwriter Mark Chappell has respect for what he’s deconstructing."
"Saoirse Ronan’s flair for deadpan can’t save this inane whodunit"
"This jaunty comedy thriller is the closest we are likely to get to a film version of The Mousetrap – but it scuttles all over the place"
"Director Tom George is better known for directing TV comedy than making feature films – and it shows. George is very good at orchestrating comic business. He allows all the cast members to give eccentric, over-the-top performances that, at times, come close to self-parody. One of the most impressive aspects here is the painstaking way in which the director and his team recreate 1950s London theatreland and evoke the spirit of the times. Their approach is both playful and nostalgic, poking affectionate fun at the foibles of their characters."
"The film, though, is on the inane side – more of a series of comic sketches strung together than a coherent or satisfactory murder mystery drama."