In Glass Onion, a rich business mogul (Edward Norton) borrows the Mona Lisa during a pandemic. Every joke has a grain of truth in it, and the central one in Glass Onion, Rian Johnson’s new celebrity-bedecked murder mystery now streaming on Netflix, contains more than a bit of honesty.
The gag revolves around the Mona Lisa, which appears not in the Louvre but in an Elon Musk-like billionaire’s house, where the Leonardo da Vinci painting can be found encased in a transparent frame, bearing witness as a group of moneyed friends and foes squabble over who killed one of their own.
Herein lies the irony: the Mona Lisa, a painting considered to be so valuable that its monetary worth is not known, becomes less important than what happens in front of it, as has periodically happened in real life. In the film, the painting, like all the other art alongside it, is quite literally the backdrop to a crime scene. One museum’s crown jewel becomes a rich man’s window dressing.