Home Death On The Nile (Subtitled)

Death On The Nile (Subtitled) (12A)

Cast: Emma Mackey, Sir Kenneth Branagh, Annette Bening, Dawn French, Gal Gadot, Sophie Okonedo, Rose Leslie, Jennifer Saunders, Tom Bateman, Letitia Wright, Russell Brand, Armie Hammer
Genre: Thriller
Author(s): Michael Green
Director: Sir Kenneth Branagh
Release Date: 11/02/2022
Running Time: 127mins
Country: US
Year: 2021

In a 1937 London club, Poirot serendipitously witnesses the sexually charged first encounter of glamorous heiress Linnet Ridgeway and Simon Doyle, fiance of Linnet's best friend, Jacqueline de Bellefort. Six weeks later, Simon and Linnet are married and celebrating nuptials at the First Cataract Hotel in Aswan. A jilted and openly jealous Jacqueline gatecrashes the festivities and Linnet implores Poirot - coincidentally in Egypt - to intervene.


LondonNet Film Review
Death On The Nile (12A)

At the end of director Sir Kenneth Branagh’s handsome 2017 reimagining of a snowbound Murder On The Orient Express, a police officer approaches Hercule Poirot with news of a dastardly deed on the River Nile. That teasing nod to a second investigation for the extravagantly moustachioed Belgian sleuth, played by Branagh, is realised five years later in an equally lavish case torn from the pages of Agatha Christie and adapted by Michael Green…

Off screen, Death On The Nile has almost capsized under the weight of serious allegations levelled against one of the lead actors. Judged purely on the craftsmanship on screen, Branagh’s rendition remains afloat with lustrous production design and costumes and elegantly choreographed set-pieces, but falls short of the grandeur and star-laden suspense of the Oscar-winning 1978 film with Sir Peter Ustinov as Poirot.

A monochrome prologue set in 1914 wartime trenches, which fleshes out Poirot’s anguished romantic past, is Green’s grim invention but, for the most part, his script adheres to the watertight plot of the 1937 novel, building to a grandstand summation that convenes suspects and exposes the guilty with a flourish. Characterisation is disappointingly patchy and thorny issues of sexuality and race are distilled into a couple of lines of dialogue and then largely ignored. Many of the suspects are starved of meaty back stories and struggle to stand out from sweeping computer-generated Egyptian vistas. As corpses stack up in a paddle boat’s food chiller, the finger of suspicion naturally points to the most fully realised protagonists.

In a 1937 London club, Poirot (Branagh) serendipitously witnesses the sexually charged first encounter of glamorous heiress Linnet Ridgeway (Gal Gadot) and Simon Doyle (Armie Hammer), fiance of Linnet’s best friend, Jacqueline de Bellefort (Emma Mackey). Six weeks later, Simon and Linnet are married and celebrating nuptials at the First Cataract Hotel in Aswan. Champagne corks fly for a guest list from the bride’s side of the family: her dutiful maid Louise Bourget (Rose Leslie), cousin and lawyer Andrew Katchadourian (Ali Fazal), aristocratic former fiance Dr Linus Windlesham (Russell Brand), godmother Marie Van Schuyler (Jennifer Saunders) and nursemaid companion Mrs Bowers (Dawn French), and long-time friend Bouc (Tom Bateman) and his artistic mother Euphemia (Annette Bening).

Musical entertainment comes from jazz singer Salome Otterbourne (Sophie Okonedo), managed by her niece Rosalie (Letitia Wright). A jilted and openly jealous Jacqueline gatecrashes the festivities and Linnet implores Poirot – coincidentally in Egypt – to intervene. The wedding party hastily relocates to a luxurious paddle steamer, the Karnak, but Linnet’s unease intensifies because “when you have money, no-one is ever really your friend”.

Death On The Nile invests too much time in Poirot’s past at the expense of the wedding party’s tangled histories and their simmering resentments. If the sleuth returns for a third investigation, that approach will reap rewards but within the confines of this murderous interlude, impeccable style dances merrily over substance.

– Jo Planter


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