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Jack Bottomley
Media Correspondent
7:53 PM 23rd March 2022
arts

Review: Death On The Nile

It feels to have been a good while since Kenneth Branagh last donned the huge (and I mean huge) moustache as Agatha Christie’s iconic sleuth Hercule Poirot. True it was only actually 2017, when he starred and directed in Murder on the Orient Express, but since then his follow up mystery Death on the Nile has ridden some very rough waters on its way to release.

Suffering from pandemic delays, uncertain constantly changing release dates and some unfortunate controversies surrounding select members of its starry ensemble, Death on the Nile could certainly have had a smoother journey to the big screen. However, as Branagh is currently riding high after the acclaim and awards glory of his latest personal film Belfast, we finally get to see what he makes of Christie’s second most famed Poirot tale.

For those that don’t know the story, this film sees wealthy heiress Linnet Ridgeway-Doyle (Gal Gadot) and new husband Simon Doyle (Armie Hammer) on their luxurious honeymoon, until an old love interest of Simon/former friend of Linnet comes calling.

To escape her intense gaze, the two and their party board a cruise on the river Nile, which famed detective Poirot (Branagh) also finds himself a part of, as he meets his loyal friend Bouc (Tom Bateman), who invites him along for this care free ride. Naturally, a murder plot soon follows!

Death on the Nile was another fun journey with Branagh’s distinctive take on Poirot, if rather less impactful than the first. Based on a text from 1937, and one which has already been adapted a number of times, this was naturally an old school cinematic undertaking.

Michael Green’s screenplay, just like Branagh’s direction, clearly has great affection for the material and relishes every moment spent with it. Thankfully there are some modernised twists and alterations that may/may not appeal to some purists but it does keep things a tad more spicy for those very familiar with the story. Heck even Poirot’s mighty facial hair gets its own origin story here.

That said it takes a very long time for the actual title narrative to kick in. It is a good hour or so before we even board the ship with our party/possible suspects, and the film does seem to be awash at many points in its own lavishness and linger on the aesthetic extravagance of its setting too long for its own good.

There are many CGI pyramids and moments spent in the company of Haris Zambarloukos’ pleasant paint palette cinematography but come the first murder, things finally get down to business, while remaining ravishing looking in the process of course.

Even if you are new to this plot, you will predict a couple of twists but I still had fun with it, as I'm sure did the game ensemble, the brilliant Branagh especially. Who continues to be a much savoured gift in this role, as he attempts to humanise the master detective but not at the expense of his eccentricities. There are also some standout turns by the likes of Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Sophie Okonedo, the returning Tom Bateman, and (a somewhat unrecognisable) Russell Brand.

Truth be told Murder on the Orient Express was a superior journey that stuck a stronger emotive note but Death on the Nile still has its champagne showered charms and is an enjoyably throwback whodunnit caper, aided on its way by the affection all onboard share for it.

12a
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Tom Bateman, Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Russell Brand, Letitia Wright, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Emma Mackey, Annette Bening, Ali Fazal, Sophie Okonedo
Release Date: Out Now (Cinemas)