10 April 2018 | Coventry
All hail Agatha Christie! What a phenomenal writer she was.
More than 40 years after her death, the almighty Mrs. Agatha Christie is more alive than she ever was! I've been a massive fan of her work since many, many years, so you can imagine how ecstatic I am with this Christie-revival. The BBC still regularly produces fancy mini-series based on her work (recently there was another great version of "And then there were none", starring Sam Neill and Charles Dance) and within one and the same year there were no less than two large-budgeted film productions with impressive cast ensembles. Kenneth Brannagh played it safe, with another umpteenth but nevertheless enjoyable interpretation of "Murder on the Orient Express", but most of all I was looking forward to the very first adaptation of the fantastically bonkers - and Agatha's personal favorite - story "Crooked House".
At first, I was a bit concerned regarding the choice of director. The French born Gilles Paquet-Brenner's first film "Walled In" really sucked, and he didn't do a very impressive job transferring Gillian Flynn's powerful novel "Dark Places" into a compelling thriller, neither. But hey, maybe it's because I'm biased regarding the source material, but "Crooked House" nevertheless became a good old-fashioned and absorbing mystery-whodunit with a stellar cast, lovely decors and a thoroughly ominous atmosphere. But it's the phenomenal story that is domineering here. Like I said, I'm biased, but if the novel is faithfully adapted it's difficult to ruin a good Agatha Christie tale. If you haven't read the novel or read any plot spoilers, I dare you to guess the denouement! The dead of 76-year-old family patriarch and self-made millionaire Aristide Leonidès quickly turns into murder when it's discovered that his insulin got replaced by a lethal poison. Leonidès large and entire family, including a sexy young wife and a sister-in-law from his previous marriage, all live together at the immense family estate and, in familiar Agatha Christie style, each had a motive to murder the overbearing old man. His beloved granddaughter Sophie enlists the help of private detective, with whom she had a brief romantical history in Cairo, but he doesn't make a lot of progress in unmasking the culprit.
For people who aren't as obsessed with Agatha Christie than me, "Crooked House" is perhaps slightly overlong and admittedly it takes too long before the second obligatory incident occurs. Meanwhile, however, there are many great dialogues and a continuously mounting suspense to enjoy. The young cast members (Max Irons, Stefanie Martini, Honor Kneafsey) do a more than adequate job, and it's always a pleasure to see some veterans, like Glenn Close, Terence Stamp and Julian Sands.