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Glass Onion and the pellucid greed of the one percent

Netflix’s newest mystery film includes some interesting class commentary, but it doesn’t live up to its predecessor

Glass Onion, the sequel to the 2019 murder-mystery Knives Out, is making the rounds after a limited-theatre run and a Netflix release at the end of December. It follows the same skeleton as its predecessor — the detective Benoit Blanc, played by Daniel Craig, investigates a murder amongst a group of out-of-touch rich people, only this time it takes place on a billionaire’s private island in the middle of the pandemic.

It continues the current trend of criticizing the upper class, seen in HBO’s The White Lotus and Palme d’Or winner Triangle of Sadness. This criticism, not entirely new, has recently been reignited due to the rising cost of living and post-pandemic inflation.

The film starts with the billionaire Miles Bron, played by Edward Norton, sending all his friends a box of riddles. Upon solving, the box opens to reveal an invitation to a murder-mystery party held on his private island, reminiscent of Kim Kardashian’s controversial birthday party at the height of COVID-19. On the way to the island, the friend group meets Benoit Blanc and a woman named Andi, played by Janelle Monáe, who is revealed to be the true brains behind Bron’s company Alpha.

Glass Onion is not a bad film — it currently has a critics score of 92 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. However,  it does fall short of the greatness of its predecessor. This difference in quality leads to an underwhelming yet enjoyable movie-watching experience that would be reduced had Glass Onion been a stand-alone film. 

The glass onion, which stands tall at the centre of Miles Bron’s island, is used as a metaphor to criticize the characters’ wealth and belief systems. Whereas an onion demands you peel away at its layers to reveal the centre, one can look right through glass with no effort. The character of Miles Bron is portrayed by the media as being a genius businessman and a true visionary, when he is, in fact, a fraud who is only rich and successful because of someone else’s idea. He is nowhere near as intelligent, complex, or disruptive as he pretends to be. He is a glass onion.

Bron calls himself and his friends disruptors, for he believes that they challenge norms and are brave and successful for doing so. However, in reality, they are upholding the status quo. There is nothing disruptive about being a corrupt politician, like Katheryn Hahn’s character Claire, or upholding patriarchal gender ideals, like Dave Bautista’s character Duke Cody. Their success is  due to the fact that they prioritize the power, influence and money of being friends with a man like Miles Bron over doing what is right. They are all, as Monáe’s character puts it, “holding on for dear life to Miles Bron’s golden titties.”

Netflix has already purchased the rights to a third film in the franchise, so this is not the end of Benoit Blanc.

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