Christie Movies

Four new Poirot movies have recently come out. They star, from the old cast, just David Suchet, not Hugh Fraser (Hastings) and Philip Jackson (Japp) or the exquisitely well-coifed Pauline Moran (Miss Lemon), which is a bit of a disappointment. However, the tone and attack of the movies is so substantially different from the series that the lack of the familiar doesn’t pain too much. As it is, the director & co. appear to have spent a great deal of money on their supporting cast. Cambridge Spies hotties Toby Stephens and Rupert Penry-Jones have shown up in two movies so far.

There are four altogether. I have seen three so far: Death on a Nile, Five Little Pigs, Sad Cypress. The Hollow is the fourth. I’ll review the first two here and the latter two in a later post.

Death on a Nile

Far superior to the big 1978 movie that was supposed to capitalize on the success of Murder on the Orient Express. I saw the 1978 version when I was a teen shortly after reading the book, and it was a huge disappointment. The Suchet version sticks more closely to the book (this is a good thing, by the way; Christie put in plenty of pathos and action and dialog and characterization without anyone needing to make up their own silly stuff), and the Simon character is very believable as a sort of masculine femme fatale. Their Jacqueline does a good job, although I confess I still picture her differently (the problem with putting books on the screen!), but the big surprise is Alastair MacKenzie from Monarch of the Glen. He plays the lordly Bolshevik and does an excellent job, making the comic subplot truly interesting to watch.

Five Little Pigs

Probably the best filmed and best acted and best scripted of the three I’ve seen so far. Interestingly enough, Agatha Christie wrote a play version of this story. I haven’t read the play recently so I can’t tell you whether and/or how much of it the script writers used, but the excellence of the script makes me suspect Christie’s ghostly hand. The story is one of my favorites (and the reason I watch Cold Cases on CBS, despite the silly plots): detective must go back and find out the truth of a long dead case (twelve years here). The “witnesses” are interviewed by Poirot one by one; through questions, they recreate backflashes. It’s quite effective, and the scenery is gorgeous.

All of these movies are about love: the heartache and craziness of that emotion. It’s an appropriate theme for Christie who spent the early part of her adult life reeling from a divorce from Archibald Christie, and the larger part of her adult life happily and cozily married to Max Mallowan. The movies have a bittersweet aura which gives them a true film feel (which is why I’ve stuck them in that category, rather than under TV, although the films weren’t released in theatres). They are quite evocative. I recommend them all.


No comments: