30 August 2001 | Scarlet-22
Best Christie Adaptation
I had read DEATH ON THE NILE (probably Christie's best novel, superior to the overrated MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS) before I saw the movie, so I was sure there would be no real suspense. But, to the everlasting credit of everyone involved, the movie does manage to hold the book's air of mystery throughout. It's not as faithful to the book as it could have been--a whole major subplot is given just a few small scenes; several characters who were more substantial in the book are reduced to barely more than window dressing--but it is remarkably true to the main story, sticks to it nicely, and allows both Poirot and the viewer to come to such a completely logical conclusion about the murder that you will wonder on repeat viewings how you could have possibly missed the clues the first time.
The real gems in this film are not the leads and big names, but the smaller parts--Simon MacCorkindale as Doyle, Lois Chiles as Linnet, Jane Birkin as Louise. In particular, Simon MacCorkindale (more familiar to American audiences from MANIMAL, FALCON CREST, and COUNTERSTRIKE) is a criminally underused actor, and he does a spectacular job here in this, his first movie role, playing the hopeless and hapless Simon Doyle, caught between two captivating women (Lois Chiles and Mia Farrow--wow, what a choice to have) and ultimately driven by greed as he chooses between them.
This film is finally out in DVD, and widescreen at that, so if you like good murder mysteries and old-fashioned costume dramas, pick yourself up a copy and prepare to be entertained.