If you never read a single Agatha Christie story or know who Hercule Poirot is, you probably have little to no interest in Murder On The Orient Express. Sorry that sounds kind of terrible, but it’s the first thing that’s popped in my head after leaving the theater. This certainly won’t be for everyone, but those who appriciate a proscenium sensibility of an actor directing actors, you’ll enjoy the ride.
A film made by Kenneth Branagh, the actor who singlehandedly reinvented Shakespeare in film and then walked away from it, decided to tackle one of the great mystery stories of literature. (But if you haven’t seen his recent theatrical ‘Macbeth’ with Alex Kingston you REALLY should, it’s an absolute masterpiece of the artform.) It should come as no surprise that he amassed a cast of likewise incredible performers to bring the action to life in a movie that may be lost on the modern audience.
Built as an in period love letter to the source material, the story of famed detective Hercule Poirot encountering a mysterious murder upon the Orient Express train comes across as a beautiful exercise in adaptations. The plot unfolds about how you’d expect it to, albeit with more enchanting closeups of key players and their majetic eyes. Ok maybe that’s too flowery, but there are some truly brilliant shots of Branagh’s eyes and the meerest muscle twitch explaining almost every motivation for the character in the scene.
The cast includes Johnny Depp as Ratchet, Daisey Ridley as Mary Debenham, Leslie Odom Jr. as Dr. Arbuthnot, Penélope Cruz as Pilar Estravados, Josh Gad as Hector MacQueen, Derek Jacobi as Edward Henry Masterman, Michelle Pfeiffer as Caroline Hubbard, Judi Dench as Princess Dragomiroff and Willem Dafoe as Gerhard Hardman.
SCORE: 3.5 out of 5, viewed in standard non 3D, would see again.
There really is a lot of good to be had, the fantastic cast makes for a who’s who of character studies and intrigue. The cinematography aims to make up for the simplistic setting of a derailed train, the overhead shots from the compartments a brilliant choice to utilize the smallish space in a big way.
Maybe a little slow moving at times for an audience who aren’t prepared for a fully period piece built around a more internal detective than oh say, Sherlock Holmes. Some of the plot reveals may come across as convoluted, but again, that’s pretty much within the scope of the original story.
I’m extremely curious to see how audiences take to it when Murder On The Orient Express opens in theaters on Friday November 10th 2017.