Knives Out

“You have a regurgitative reaction to mistruths.”

When the late author Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) dies from apparent suicide, he leaves all of his assets to his caregiver, Marta (Ana de Armas). Unfortunately, the rest of the Thrombeys won’t take this as an open-and-shut suicide and one of them calls gentleman sleuth Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) to the scene.

The Problem
Marta vomits when she considers lying. Aside from making her ridiculously trustworthy, that’s got to be a little stressful (especially when her friends ask if she likes their quarantine haircuts). Marta has a physical adverse reaction to lies, and it turns out that while the rest of the story is fictional, this facet of Marta’s character is real.

Anxiety Nausea
Anyone who has ever been plagued by high anxiety knows that it can churn your stomach. Personally, my dad and I both get this and it is awful. I actually get it so bad that I stress starve; unlike stress eating, heavy stress causes me to get so nauseous that I lose my appetite completely. Over the years, I’ve learned that even when this occurs, eating a banana or oatmeal or something easy on the tummy keeps the anxiety – and further stomach discomfort caused by hunger – at bay.

Enough about me, though; let’s talk about Marta!

Gut Reaction
Stress can wreak havoc on your whole system; I don’t think any of us in quarantine is surprised by this. Nausea, heartburn, and irritable bowel syndrome are just a few examples of brain-gut connections that are rendered dysfunctional by anxiety. It’s no secret that our brains and bodies are constantly working together to maintain harmony; when one of them is out of whack, the other follows suit.

For Marta, she has a psychological response to lying that manifests as a technicolor yawn (Readers, this is my all-time favorite euphemism for throwing up; drop your favorites in the comments. Yes, I’m serious). Her brain is so repelled by the thought of lying that her body has a negative physical reaction to it. This could be for several reasons, but it most likely stems from a situation in Marta’s childhood. Perhaps she once lied to a friend about their haircut and then they offered to cut Marta’s hair…

A strong physical reaction to a psychological problem usually comes from a traumatic event, so it is safe to guess that Marta once lied with disastrous results or observed someone else lying with disastrous results, causing her to react by dropping a vom-bomb (I made that one up) whenever she tries to lie.

A Good Nurse
Ultimately, the love Harlan had for Marta is love that we can share with him. She can’t lie without a really obvious tell and she definitely didn’t hurt her late boss. A puker of truth she might be, but Marta’s nurse instincts are as sharp as knives.

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