Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery director Rian Johnson explains the significance of the Netflix sequel’s final shot involving the Mona Lisa.
Warning: This post contains spoilers for Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery writer/director Rian Johnson explains the significance of the final Mona Lisa shot. Released December 23 on Netflix, the whodunit sequel brings back Daniel Craig’s Southern-fried detective Benoit Blanc to investigate a new mystery involving tech billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton) and his motley crew of sycophant friends, who are played by Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick, Madelyn Cline, Kate Hudson, and Dave Bautista. Throughout Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, the Mona Lisa is an important motif.
In his Glass Onion mansion, which is powered by the hydrogen-based alternative fuel known as Klear, Miles displays the Mona Lisa, which he has on loan from the Louvre. During the twist-filled Glass Onion ending, Monáe’s Helen (the twin sister of Andi, whom Miles killed) uses the Klear crystal, which is unsafe around fire, to destroy the famous painting, with one of the film’s final shots showing the Mona Lisa going up in flames in slow motion. The last shot of Helen even mirrors the Mona Lisa, tying everything together. During a recent interview with The Wrap, Johnson explains the significance of the shot:
That kind of gelled fairly early, the connection between the two of them and also the notion of seeing something and then squinting a little closer and seeing something different was baked into the structure of it. I had a great conversation with [“Everything Everywhere All at Once” filmmaking duo] the Daniels recently and they’re also big structural writers, and they put it in a really beautiful way, they say the meaning of the movie is contained within the movie’s structure. And to me this is very much reflecting that, and everything Edward says when he’s talking about the Mona Lisa, in front of everybody, suddenly fusing that up to this character of Helen at the end. And you know, she burned the Mona Lisa but the Mona Lisa lives on in Helen.
Glass Onion Continues Knives Out’s Tradition Of Impactful Final Shots
The first Knives Out featured an equally cathartic ending, in which Ana de Armas’ well-intentioned protagonist, Marta, wins out over the entitled and self-serving Thrombey family. The emotional impact of the ending is driven home perfectly by the final shot as Marta, having inherited Harlan Thrombey’s mansion and fortune, stands on the balcony watching over as Ransom Drysdale (Chris Evans) is taken into custody and the rest of the family gathers below. For the perfect cherry on top, Marta drinks out of Harlan’s “My house, my rules, my coffee” mug.
Glass Onion continues Knives Out’s tradition of impactful final shots. As Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting goes up in flames, so does Miles’ hopes of being remembered in the “same breath as the Mona Lisa.” Knowing that the destruction of the painting will reveal the dangers of Klear, which Miles fast-tracked despite its safety risks, his friends finally decide to turn on him. Benoit Blanc is a brilliant detective, though his jurisdiction only goes so far, and it’s up to well-intentioned protagonists like Monáe’s Helen or de Armas’ Marta to drive a case home, and both Knives Out movies depict that perfectly with their final shots.
Back in 2021, Netflix bought the rights to two Knives Out sequels for $469 million, meaning that another Knives Out Mystery movie featuring Craig’s Benoit Blanc is on the way. While it is still too early to guess what Knives Out 3’s final shot will be, hopefully it will be just as impactful as the first two Knives Out movies. In the meantime, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is streaming on Netflix.