10 May 2008 | Mr_Wentworth-Brewster
Towards Zero is not one of Agatha Christie's more famous novels, but for a murder mystery lover it is almost an essential read. It has been several years since I read it, but I very distinctly remember how much I enjoyed it as well as the plot and the substantial twist.
This French movie adaptation is set in present day Bretagne, but other than that remains - rather surprisingly - true to the book, more so than, for example, the Diana Rigg version of Evil Under The Sun. All important plot points remain intact. Not that this in itself signifies a great movie. Au contraire, vraiment - while the cinematography, setting, music and pacing are more or less good, many of the actors overact their characters to the point of becoming caricatures instead. The shrewish wife or the maid (vaguely reminiscent of Nancy Walker's Yetta in Murder By Death, nevertheless wholly unsuitable for a serious murder mystery) are best examples of this. Danielle Darrieux is, quite unsurprisingly, not among those, and her much too brief appearance as Aunt Camilla is the only real performance in the picture. François Morel as the detective comes close to one, but not quite close enough.
Final verdict: Entertaining murder mystery with some hammy performances, fast pacing and a great twist by Dame Agatha herself. Also useful as a French listening comprehension practice, especially if you're as lucky as I am and your copy lacks subtitles.