Deep Waters Ahead

Death On The Nile
Stars: Kenneth Branagh, Tom Bateman, Annette Bening, Russell Brand, Ali Fazel, Dawn French, Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Rose Leslie, Emma Mackey, Sophie Okonedo, Jennifer Saunders, Letitia Wright and Ann Turkel
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Scriptwriter: Michael Green from the 1937 Agatha Christie novel of the same name
Composer: Patrick Doyle
Cinematography: Haris Zambarloukos
Scott Free Productions/ISG Entertainment/20th Century Fox
Rating: PG 13
Running Length: 128 Minutes 

Moviegoers may be confused with the release of Agatha Christie’s novel-into-film, “Death on the Nile.”  Director Kenneth Branagh just had “Belfast” in theaters and received accolades for the film, about his growing up in Ireland. However, “Death on the Nile,” was actually made a few years ago and due to the Pandemic, was tabled until now. Branagh not only directs the film, but stars as Detective Hercule Poirot, as well. Christie wrote over 30 novels about the French detective with a moustache, and the book “Death on the Nile” came out in 1937. This is the type of film, as “Death On The Orient Express,” (also directed by Branagh) where anyone who can hold a script is in the cast. There is intrigue here, plus an exotic setting, so the audience must perk up and try to find the killer. 

It begins s during WWI and Poirot’s experience in the war. Go ahead in time to 1937, and we now see Poirot with a moustache. The story now centers on a newly -wed couple, Linnet (Gal Gadot from “Wonder Woman”), quite wealthy, and she marries Simon (Armie Hammer). Alas, Simon had a girlfriend, Jacqueline (Emma Mackey) who is also Linnet’s former friend. So much for that. The story centers on the couple who are followed by the ex-girlfriend. So, a honeymoon is planned on a Nile River boat called the Karnak (shades of “The Mummy.”) When someone is found murdered, Hercule Poirot (who happens to be there) has his hands full figuring out who is the murderer. There are many mixed relationships on that boat and it takes time---and Poirot tweaking his moustache to get things right. Helping Poirot is his friend, Bouc (Tom Bateman), last seen in “Death On The Orient Express.” It seems as though almost everyone on the Karnak had a motive to kill the deceased. Now, is the time to gather facts and try to piece together what happened on that cruise. There is now another body. 

Branagh’s directing is fine, casual  and he allowed each actor---and there are many---to have a moment in the spotlight. Annette Bening, Dawn French, Tom Bateman, Emma Mackey and Sophie Okonedo come to the forefront, as does Kenneth Branagh’s “Poirot.” This is upper-class and the actors do it just right. The special effects here are fairly good, though parts of this Egyptian background film were actually done in a studio. Patrick Doyle’s music is appropriately set and costumes just right for the wealthy of that time. 

What I liked is the privilege of wealth that those on the boat enjoy. There is always someone to bring a tray of drinks or speak of adventure or wear couture clothing. Takes one back to the time when reading a book was adventure because there was no television. The little nuances of the character such as Poirot and his moustache, or the carefree look of Gal Gadot as Linnet are  caught just right by the camera. In fact, some of the stylish clothing of that time period is coming back today.  Just like Agatha Christie’s character studies of people in her novels. She would weave a plot intricately and just when you think you have solved the crime, it was a red herring and back to square one. I think Agatha Christie must have been a great chess player. 


Copyright 2022 Marie Asner