26 September 2023

Death On The Nile

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Reviewed by Hannah Spencer.

Director: Kenneth Branagh, 2022, 20th Century Studios, M, 127 mins.

Kenneth Branagh’s second turn behind the camera at an Agatha Christie murder mystery is sadly all glitz but no substance.

The sumptuous sets and costumes are certainly beguiling, and in themselves deliver an entertaining adventure into mid-century opulence.

However, there is a hollowness to this film; the bodies keep piling up at a rapid pace, but with characters this two dimensional, who really cares?

In front of the camera Branagh (Hamlet) plays Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot.

The “greatest detective in the world” joins the newly married and fabulously wealthy Linnet Ridgeway (Gal Godot, Wonder Woman) and her husband Simon Doyle (Armie Hammer, Call Me By Your Name).

Honeymooning in Egypt they cruise down the Nile with an eclectic mix of friends, family and one crazed ex-fiancé, each guest has a secret to hide, one of them deadly.

Apparently determined to elevate the character of Poirot, this film tries to flesh out his back story with flash backs of tragic lost loves and the origins of that famous moustache.

A facial hair origin story is not what we came looking for, but disappointingly, it is perhaps the most interesting scene of the movie.

Later scenes of Poirot moved to tears upon sharing the pain of lost love are uncomfortable bordering on cringe.

Christie’s Poirot books lend themselves to campness but the balance between camp, comedy and heartfelt emotion are way off the mark in this doomed voyage.

The supporting cast has pulled in some big names and rising stars including, Annette Bening, Russell Brand, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones), Letitia Wright (Black Panther) and Emma Mackey (Sex-education).

Instead of ensuring ticket sales, the packed cast has no doubt caused more than a few headaches for executives, with a slew of controversies from the actors.

Ranging from Gal Godot’s cringe “Imagine” pandemic video, through some outspoken vaccine hesitancy, all the way to Army Hammer’s alarming cannibal/ sexual assault accusations.

Kenneth Branagh seems determined to create a new Poirot universe but only time will tell if he gets his wish.

2 out of 5 stars

Screening nationally.

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