Some movies already attractive at the moment few words are mentioned. To me these words are Agatha Christie and Kenneth Branagh. I have watched nearly every movies with Kenneth Branagh in it. He is to me an epitome of THE British Actor and Director. Death on the Nile, Murder on the Orient Express, Oppenheimer, Harry Potter series, Dunkirk, Hamlet, Tenet, Cinderella and As You Like It. They are all very nicely done. Equally, I love Agatha Christie, I grew up with her books, from the mainstream ones such as Hercule Poirot and Ms Marple to the more quaint ones like Parker Pyne, Tommy and Tuppence even Mr Harley Quinn. I therefore cannot promise you this review does not have strong bias to both.
Haunting in Venice is adapted rather loosely from Halloween Party Agatha Christie. It came from Hercule Poirot ( Hercule Poirot ) retirement phase and employing ex-police officer names Vitale Portfoglio ( Ricardo Scamarcio ) as his bodyguard to fend off interested and desperate would be clients. His friend, Ariadne Oliver ( Tina Fey ) , who is a mystery writer, convinced Poirot to attend a seance at the palazzo of famed opera singer Rowena Drake ( Kelly Reilly ) with the intention to expore Joyce Reynold (Michelle Yeoh) medium who was nurse in world war I – as a fraud. In the process, there are several murders to solve in which Hercule Poirot promptly and reluctantly get involved and eventually solve these murders. In the mix, we have Dr Leslie Ferrer (Jamie Dornan) who has psychological trauma and in love with Rowena Drake with his son Leopold Ferrier (Jude Hill), Maxime Gerard (Kyle Allen) who is ex fiance of Rowena Drake’s daughter and of course as in any Agatha Christie lock room mystery, there is housekeeper, this time named Olga Seminoff (Camille Cottin).
The movie were made with Kenneth Branagh group who has worked with him in many of his movies in the past as well Ridley Scott who is a British Director with quirky movies but typically has a lot of haunting and eerie scenes. If you are into sparse yet elegant dialogues and heavy with emotion, nearly play-like, this is most definitely your movie. It was not made ala Death on the Nile which has 50/60 style to it, this is more of classic British or at least European movie style, which I so much love. The dialogues were beautifully written for us to enjoy, including the silence, theater-like sound track and all the sounds that illustrate hauntingly lonely palazzo during storm. Frame-by-frame the scenes were made in picturesque way, you can pause and take picture or paint, it will have heavy emotion undertone. The loneliness and the desperation described aptly with lonely boats agaisnt the heavy rain, for example. The footsteps and empty hallway, the sound of Hercule Poirot in the water, they are properly eerie and scary. The props in the palazzo and the costume, they fit very nicely into the whole story and each one you can also savor as beautiful individual item in the movie. The palazzo and its setting is truly elegant. This is for sure a high quality British movie.
The movie has very interesting actors which worry me at first (not enough to deter me not to watch however) whether this mix will deliver solid flavor of Agatha Christie British movie or it will acquire more of American flavor ( then it will be Knives Out, albeit still very interesting and entertaining of course). However, I am pleased to report that Jamie Dornan and Tina Fey do not dilute the story at all, they played their respective roles very well. Tina Fey as charming but sneaky mystery writer and Jamie Dornan as doctor who is in emotional anguish propped by his prodigious son. Kenneth Branagh with his theater experience and Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) along with Jonathan Pryce, Alan Rickman and others, delivered his part as usual with aplomb. Michelle Yeoh I thought will be out of place in highly theatrical setting and playing medium, which typically very classic European tradition, she played it well.
The combination of all of these elements make the movies very entertaining locked room mystery with lovely Venice background. Rotten Tomatoes score of 81% cannot be too far wrong especially for movie this niche (not everyone these days familiar with Agatha Christie anymore). For sure I would think a great date movie for those of you who are both mystery or / and ooBritish movies lovers. Absolutely a Must See ! If you miss it, do not worry, this is the kind of movie that will go into one of those streaming application.
Verdict : A great movie for everyone and absolutely a must see for mystery and / or British movies lovers. If you are a locked room mystery, this is fantabulous treat for you !