Murder on the Orient Express
By Margaret Pomeranian
Agatha Christie fans and the more genteel of movie viewers should enjoy this latest filmic edition of the classic novel.
But alas, modern audiences may be left wanting more.
I was completely and utterly drawn into the world of 1934; chock full of romanticism, charm and grace.
I instantly wanted to fly to Istanbul and immerse myself in the sights and sounds of the era, and of course travel on that famous dame the Orient Express.
A dislikable art dealer (Johnny Depp) provides the movie with its title by helpfully being killed in his sleeper carriage aboard the train, and the mystery begins.
Kenneth Branagh’s directorial record is spotty at best, and on this occasion he does an adequate job of placing the audience in the time period. The train herself is a wonderful cast member and no effort was spared in set design. A few exterior CGI shots give the game away occasionally which is disappointing.
Branagh also does an amiable job in front of the camera as world famous detective Hercule Poirot, who anchored so many of Christie’s novels and resultant films and TV shows, and again headlines this excursion.
The Belgian accent is great, and the grand moustache seems to have a life of its own. As director and star, this seems to be a work of love for Branagh.
As the for the rest of the cast, it’s a veritable whos-who from all cinematic walks of life.
Relative newcomer Daisy Ridley (StarWars: The Force Awakens) joins households names Depp, Derek Jacobi, Michelle Pfeiffer, Willem Dafoe, Penélope Cruz, Josh Gad, and of course the ever-present Dame Judi Dench, who seems to appear in everything these days.
Being a Christie work, each character is essentially one-dimensional but they’re all portrayed with gusto by the players.
The story is where the journey comes off the tracks however, since all good murder mysteries need plot twists and this script sadly seems devoid of them.
In fact, even the dullest of Belgian detectives could have figured it out several stations ahead, so telegraphed was the story.
Some basic editing changes and delayed reveals could have provided more surprises for the audience and made the final showdown more exciting.
Still worth buying a ticket on this trip, and I enjoyed my time on the Orient Express.
3 out of 5 Well Appointed Train Carriages.