Home A Haunting In Venice

A Haunting In Venice (12A)

Cast: Sir Kenneth Branagh, Riccardo Scamarcio, Amir El-Masry, Jamie Dornan, Michelle Yeoh, Tina Fey, Dylan Corbett Bader
Genre: Thriller
Author(s): Michael Green
Director: Sir Kenneth Branagh
Release Date: 15/09/2023
Running Time: 103mins
Country: US/Uk/Ita
Year: 2023

Several years after the events of Death On the Nile, Hercule Poirot has retired and is happily exiled in Venice after the Second World War. He reluctantly agrees to attend a seance and is stunned when one of the guests is murdered, Surrounded by the potential suspects, Poirot returns to old habits to unmask the perpetrator through logic and a meticulous examination of the evidence.

LondonNet Film Review

A Haunting In Venice (12A) Film Review from LondonNet

Shortly before a piercing scream reverberates across Venice to herald murder most horrid in director Sir Kenneth Branagh’s handsomely mounted whodunnit, Hercule Poirot witnesses a shadow theatre performance of a ghost story and wonders if children in the audience might be disturbed by the ghoulish content. “Scary stories make life less scary,” casually explains his companion. The scares in A Haunting In Venice are stylishly orchestrated and mildly effective, signalling a continued descent into darkness for Sir Kenneth’s embodiment of the debonair Belgian sleuth since a star-laden 2017 remake of Murder On The Orient Express…

His latest exercise in deduction is loosely adapted by returning screenwriter Michael Green from Agatha Christie’s 1969 novel Halloween Story and congregates a motley crew of suspects in an atmospheric locale (a supposedly haunted Venetian palazzo) for Poirot to interrogate after a dastardly crime is committed within his ear shot. A Haunting In Venice stokes tension with questionable directorial flourishes including a protracted sequence of a discombobulated Poirot wandering down darkened corridors with a camera rigged to his chest so his face is a fixed point of interest in the gloom. The intricacies of the plot are evident before a perpetrator is unmasked but the impressive ensemble cast including Jamie Dornan and Jude Hill, who co-starred in Sir Kenneth’s wondrous coming-of-age drama Belfast, generate sufficient suspicion and confusion with their tangled back stories.

Roughly a decade since tragic events on the Nile, Poirot (Sir Kenneth) has retired from sleuthing to meticulously tend plants and feed his sweet tooth in Venice. He hires former police officer Vitale Portfoglio (Riccardo Scamarcio) as a private bodyguard to swat away personal callers except “the pastry man, twice a day”. American author Ariadne Oliver (Tina Fey), who immortalised Poirot on her pages, secures a private audience.

She coerces the moustachioed Belgian to accompany her to a Halloween party thrown by opera diva Rowena Drake (Kelly Reilly) in the palazzo where Rowena’s emotionally disturbed daughter Alicia (Rowan Robinson) fell from a balcony and drowned. A medium, Joyce Reynolds (Michelle Yeoh), has been summoned to converse with Alicia and Ariadne intends to debunk the spiritualist. “This is against nature and the good Lord. Somebody will have to pay!” warns Rowena’s superstitious housekeeper Olga Seminoff (Camille Cottin) and one of the guests tumbles to their demise.

A Haunting In Venice adopts the same stately pace as Sir Kenneth’s previous tours of the Christie estate, despite the shortest running time of the series. His portrayal of Poirot feels more grounded, reflecting the solemnity of the post-Second World War setting, and allows supernatural elements and Oscar winner Yeoh’s luminosity to command attention. Impeccable production design and costumes, showcased by cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos, elevate an intimate story of grief and betrayal made specifically for the big screen.

– Kim Hu

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