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Glass Onion: Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc is a cut above Hollywood’s usual insipid queerbaiting

wAll love is a mystery. This is the central thrill of Wonderland, after all. He told the audience a murder had occurred, locked a bunch of archetypes in a room, and kept pulling strings until the whole thing was out. It’s kind of old-fashioned that’s undergone something of an unexpected comeback in the past few years, with 2019’s slick and entertaining Rian Johnson puzzle game Take out the knives Sit between efforts like Murder on the Orient ExpressAnd the murder mystery And the See how they run at the height of the poll. But Johnson knows that when it comes to some things — like your main character’s gender identity in a buzzy new movie franchise — ambiguity simply won’t cut it.

Take out the knives Watch Daniel Craig play Benoit Blanc, a charismatic Southern private eye who is brought in to solve the murder of a wealthy crime novelist. Carrying on a long tradition of onscreen paranormal detectives, from Sherlock to Columbo, Blanc has managed (in part through Craig’s hilariously absurd characterization) nonetheless to establish himself as a fascinating character and a worthy original creation. This week sees Plank’s return Glass Onion: Takes the mystery out of the cutlery, a stand-alone sequel that pits the character against a whole new group of eccentric killers. In the film, Blanc is shown to be living with another man (played in a cameo by a very popular movie star). At a press conference prior to the film’s premiere last month, Johnson, who also wrote the script, was asked if the character was gay. “Yes, it obviously is,” came the reply.

Now, on the surface, this ad looks like yet another iteration of the empty, performative “acting” trend so prevalent in major media franchises. (often referred to as “queerbaiting”). You see it happen over and over again: a filmmaker or actor will declare that this or that popular character is offbeat, while refusing to make it clear in the work itself. Think Lando Calrissian by Donald Glover Solo: A Star Wars Story. Ryan Reynolds is a “pansexual” Deadpool. Marvel’s Loki, whose on-screen bisexuality has hitherto been one extreme short of dialogue. Even the lesser-known films tried to get into a rant: Does anyone remember the embarrassing attempts to provoke Jack Whitehall as Disney’s evil gay Jungle trip? It’s a veritable epidemic in the mainstream film industry: studios desperate for the plaudits of progressivism (and the money that flows from it) but unwilling to actually risk queer-focused stories. That’s how it is glass onion Really that’s different?

Well, it may not be. It’s true that the movie doesn’t bother to spell out Blanc’s sexuality; His partner could easily have been written off as a roommate. Like everyone else, this person calls him “Blan” – a joke, but also a mocking eye, a sly obfuscation. Still, Blanc’s quirkiness is somewhat present on screen: in the way he dresses (particularly in this laid-back Greek sequel to the island group) and in the tenor of some of his personal dynamics. glass onion On the surface it may seem like just another entry from the Hollywood playbook, but there is, I would argue, something different about Blanc. It reads as offbeat in a way that, say, Deadpool doesn’t.

Perhaps what distinguishes him from the empty nod to gay characters in films like dead list or Thor: Love and Thunder It is simply the fact that it is well written. Plank is a distinct and carefully built character. Although differences glass onionplot, you always have a clear sense of Blanc’s personality and values. The problem with Deadpool or Lando Calrissian, for example, supposedly offbeat is that they don’t feel like people at all. Not that they look straight per se, just that they’re completely devoid of sexuality: they’re frivolous, satirical delivery machines, covered in quirky computer graphics. If all I watch is a guy shooting lasers at falling debris while muttering, “So that It just happened,” I didn’t care what their sexual preference was, honestly.

There is a sense, in Benoit Blanc, that we are witnessing the emergence of an original cinematic character with real lasting potential. In an industry utterly saturated with perks and mods – where “current IP” isn’t just a buzzword but an entire corporate debt – Take out the knives It was rare as a completely original commercial success. When news got out that Netflix was spending $450 million on two sequels, it could have been seen as a surrender to the spirit of the modern “bleed-’em-dry” franchise. Instead, it’s been greeted as a boon: Johnson and Craig have hit on a good thing, and who knows where that could lead?

Ana de Armas and Daniel Craig in Knives Out

(Claire Folger)

Blanc follows a long tradition of on-screen detectives, which includes a number of the most beloved and enduring characters in fiction: characters like Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple or Columbo. They are all straight, of course. (In 2015, Benedict Cumberbatch hinted that his version of Sherlock might actually be gay, though that notion was dropped fairly quickly.) Blanc’s sexuality may be what sets him apart from the pack—it’s not his only defining advantage. , but maybe a select one.

Ultimately, queer representation is hampered by a number of intractable realities in the modern film industry — not the least of which is regressive wisdom when it comes to sexuality in general. The Petty Destroyer certainly wouldn’t change anything about that. But who knows? Perhaps 30 years from now, Benoit Blanc will be a household name. For now, at least, we’re content with what we’re getting — an encouraging suggestion that straightness in mainstream fiction no longer needs to feel like the default.

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is in cinemas through November 29, before hitting Netflix on December 23.

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