Alex Reviews "Death on the Nile"
Death on the Nile follows the classic Agatha Christie novel in which Hercule Poirot must solve a murder during a newlywed couple’s honeymoon cruise along the longest river in the world.
Star and director Kenneth Branagh and the production team have elevated this story with the use of multiple visual clues not often even considered in dramatic narratives of this type, but this attention to detail also gives the proper respect to its source material. From wardrobe choices to the nature of that section of the world, every single shot has a story and detail that fit together like a puzzle to form this piece of cinematic art.
I usually like to highlight a few cast members who really crushed their roles, but it is nearly impossible in this ensemble piece (also a theme of Christie’s works) with every single actor is amazing in their character, delivery, and elevation of the narrative in every shot. That being said, it is important to note that any pre-conceived opinions of some of these cast members in the past should be put to the side within this film. For instance, there can be seen a close connection between the characters played by Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, but outside of great screenwriting those unfamiliar with them should know they are actual lifelong friends and the co-stars of the wildly successful series “Absolutely Fabulous”.
Obviously, the film hinges on Kenneth Branagh’s direction AND performance at every turn, and it would be easy for an actor to attempt playing the role of an amazing detective as infallible. With “Death on the Nile,” Branagh does more from the film opening until it’s final shot to add layers to Poirot than most characters could not achieve in years of a series of television or movies down to the details that bookend this film with Bouc (reprised by Tom Bateman), the Otterbournes (Letitia Wright of Black Panther and Sophie Okonedo, Oscar nominee for Hotel Rwanda), and a cast of characters who see past his eccentricities and ego enough to call him out on his own secrets.
The lone drawback of the picture can be blamed on delays and alleged reshoots which required a green screen back drop for continuity. These shots not only pale in comparison to what was originally put to film on location in Aswan, Egypt, but make the CG edging somewhat obvious. Other than those fleeting seconds, this picture is a masterpiece in narrative, delivery, and visuals. The exact phrase I said walking out of the screening was: “I do not remember much about Murder on the Orient Express (this picture’s predecessor), but I will remember every detail about this one.” From it’s ominous black and white opening flashback throughout the picture, I was captivated.
Forget any reviews (including this one): go to the theater and be ready to experience true movie magic reminiscent of the golden age of pictures elevated by modern technology as Death on the Nile transports you to a world of wonder, but beware the asps in all their forms.