FAN EFFECT REVIEW: “Death on the Nile” is a glamourous mystery that diverts from the book
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SALT LAKE CITY — Kenneth Branagh is back in Hercule Poirot’s iconic mustache (and the director’s chair) in “Death on the Nile,” the latest film spun from the detective series created by Agatha Christie. Branagh’s “Death on the Nile” retells the iconic story from the 1937 novel and boasts a beautiful cast, glamorous cinematography, and a modern twist. And what this mystery-thriller lacks in pace is made up by the deepening theme of obsessive vs. endearing love.
In this sequel to 2017’s “Murder On The Orient Express,” famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) is pulled into the drama of a strangers’ spectacular Egyptian destination wedding party by his good friend Bouc (Tom Bateman) and his mother Euphemia Bouc (Annette Bening).
The newlyweds’ Linnet Ridgeway (Gal Gadot) and Simon Doyle (Armie Hammer) have invited a diverse cast of friends and hired help to join them on a wealth-infused vacation down the Nile River. But their celebration is interrupted when Ridgeway’s former friend and Doyle’s former fiance Jacqueline de Bellefort (Emma Mackey) continually crashes the party.
In this emotionally charged atmosphere, the story dives into the intensely intertwined lives of the passengers. We discover more of Poirot’s previous life and personal trials.
The trip becomes terrifying with murderous twists and social chaos, as our hero Piroiot tries to unravel the murder mystery.
The good and the bad
In this retelling of the well-known mystery, characters are consolidated and reworked. They simply shine with a more modern diversity. While starting a bit slow, the movie lowers you into a rich story of a picture-perfect couple living in sweeping desert vistas and majestic, albeit computer-generated, sweeps.
The stars and ensemble shine in their own right, with interesting side stories cleverly written, and even deeper themes of love and lust than those contained in the source material.
Kenneth Branagh continues to develop Poirot beyond the iconic typecast of the detective. Branagh’s interpretation casts Poirot in a more personable light as an outright fish-out-of-water when he is thrust into an unplanned social situation.
Gal Gadot shines as the rich bride, who, while used to getting her way displays faltering confidence and unnerved vulnerability. Armie Hammer’s Simon Doyle rightfully exhibits the boyish appeal of Agatha Christies’ original, while Emma Mackey’s Jacqueline de Bellefort adds to the manic intensity and mystery of the character.
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Tom Bateman’s return to the role of Bouc is a pleasant surprise for fans of the books; he admirably replaced a different character. And the switching of Salome Otterbourne from novelist to jazz singer added layers of nuance and a wonderful performance from Sophie Okonedo.
The adaptation of “Death on the Nile”
I like to read a book before I see the adapted version for stage or film. It’s fun to see how other creatives take the writer’s world and adjust the story, and thus the message for a new medium. I feel it adds so much more to the narrative, an idea about which my cohost on the Fan Effect Podcast, Andy Farnsworth, and I disagree.
So in the weeks before seeing “Death on the Nile,” I read Christie’s book. Then I read her “Murder on the Orient Express” and then saw the 2017 version of the film.
I am so glad I did!
I loved the 2017 version of “Orient Express,” and was very happy they did not “Hollywood” the ending. Which ironically Andy did not like, because he had not read the book.
While “Orient Express” holds more true to the source material, “Death on the Nile” does not. This adaption adds new and interesting twists to the actual mystery. The plot is ramped up by drama and sexuality. And that removes some of the stiffer social barriers of the original 1937 version.
At the same time, some Agatha Christie fans might be disappointed with diversions the plot takes. Particularly when it comes to changing some of the standard Poirot lore.
Overall it was an enjoyable ride with enough twists and turns to keep even the most devoted Poirot fans guessing. The sumptuous scenery, exotic backgrounds, glamourous costumes, and decadent wordplay make your movie outing a mini vacation in this cold month of February.
The film is rated PG-13 for violence and some bloody images. There is also sexual material that includes some uncomfortably long grinding-dance scenes. But as a murder mystery, the violence, blood, and murder are handled with a bit more class than seen in other genres of film.
Would you like another opinion on “Death on the Nile”?
Check out my Fan Effect Podcast cohost Andy Farnsworth’s review for KSLTV, where he says “I actually enjoyed the story’s twists and turns and resolution more than I did in Orient Express.” and “Bonus, Poirot’s giant mustache even gets its own backstory!”
Beyond Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Gaming and Tech, the brains behind Fan Effect are connoisseurs of categories surpassing the nerdy. Listen regularly on your favorite platform, at kslnewsradio.com, or on the KSL App. Join the conversation on Facebook @FanEffectShow, Instagram @FanEffectShow, and Twitter @FanEffectShow. Fan Effect is sponsored by Megaplex Theatres, Utah’s premiere movie entertainment company.
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