The main mystery at the core of Death on the Nile, Kenneth Branagh‘s newest Agatha Christie production, hasn’t been who in this ensemble is a killer, but whether the film would ever come out, especially after years of delays. Death on the Nile began to feel like nothing more than an elaborate trailer at one point, thanks to the COVID-19 epidemic and sexual assault claims against Armie Hammer. Initially scheduled for premier in 2019, Death on the Nile has finally sailed, and the outcome is a gripping, tantalizing mystery that may be Branagh’s greatest work as a filmmaker in over a decade.
Death on the Nile really starts with Branagh’s Hercule Poirot’s mustache genesis myth.
We learn about Poirot’s background as a soldier, as well as the narrative of the love he lost that radically changed his life, in a black-and-white flashback that is more affecting than anything in Branagh’s 2021 movie, Belfast.
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after this enthralling prelude, Death on the Nile skips ahead to the heart of the picture, a convoluted mystery set onboard the S.S. Karnak on a journey down the Nile, which is confused with hidden loves, massive theft, and, of last but not least, murder.
The passengers on the Karnak are toasting Linnet Ridgeway-Doyle (Gal Gadot) and Simon Doyle (Hammer), who had just met six weeks before. Jacqueline (Emma Mackey) is also onboard the ship, and she was engaged to Simon when he introduced him to Linnet, and she’s been following the couple throughout Egypt since then. When there is a passenger is killed, everyone on the ship becomes a suspect. Death on the Nile has a remarkable cast, including Annette Benning, Russell Brand, Rose Leslie, Sophie Okonedo, Jennifer Saunders, Letitia Wright, and Tom Bateman, similar to Branagh‘s 2017 picture Murder on the Orient Express.
Branagh takes his time with these individuals and their interactions, much more so than he did with Murder on the Orient Express. While this might be clunky at times, such as when Bateman’s Bouc spouts out the crucial facts we need to know about these characters in rapid-fire dialogue, it pays off in the film later on, when murder is at hand. Branagh also spends extra time with each character individually, conducting interrogations to learn more about who they are and what their goals could be.
Branagh’s Poirot, on the other hand, is the biggest surprise in Death on the Nile.
Poirot emerges as the saddest member of this group in this murder mystery that intertwines money and love and demonstrates the depths to which individuals will go for both.
We see how far Poirot’s life has drifted from what he expected, how his standing as the world’s finest detective drives away people he loves, and how being the best at his trade has made Poirot’s life heartbreakingly tragic as he solves this case. Throughout Death on the Nile, Poirot’s voyage does not detract from the case at hand, but it does become the most effective component of the entire film.
Despite the fact that Death on the Nile spends more time developing its characters before getting into the mystery, there are still a number of performers that are underappreciated owing to the large cast. Leslie isn’t given anything to do as Linnet’s lady maid, and Benning feels completely wasted as Bouc’s mother, Euphemia.
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Yet, as with Okondeo’s Salome Otterbourne, a jazz singer who captures Poirot’s attention, and Brand’s unexpectedly straight part as Linus, a doctor who was originally Linnet’s fiancé, there are plenty of opportunities for more subtle performances to come through.
While a murder mystery of this nature is bound to be grim, Death on the Nile sticks with the bleakness of the genre, a dismal narrative that doesn’t embellish the darkness of this whodunit. Branagh doesn’t allow his viewers to enjoy the pride that Poirot typically feels after solving this sort of case at the conclusion of Death on the Nile, since he’s lost all delight in his genius with this riddle. Branagh, on the other hand, makes the viewer experience the vulgar horror of witnessing humanity at its ugliest. It’s hardly the kind of reaction one would anticipate from a star-studded puzzle picture, but Branagh nails this depressing climax.
But Branagh mixes Christie’s sorrow with this intriguing mystery to create probably Branagh’s strongest directorial effort since 2015’s live-action Cinderella—another example of Branagh giving depth and life to a well-known subject. Death on the Nile may have taken a long time to arrive, but it’s one of the most enticing mysteries in recent memory, and it’s a terrific illustration of how Branagh can elevate classic storylines in a graceful and careful way.
The film Death on the Nile will be released in cinemas on February 11th.