Murder on the Orient Express – Movie Review
One of Agatha Christie’s most popular novels is brought to the big screen and it is done lavishly and with style. I confess to not having read Christie’s novel but, of course, that made the movie all the more fun, not knowing the ending. It is refreshing to see a movie come from Hollywood that is not filled with gratuitous language, sex, or violence. A good old-fashioned mystery with lots of interesting characters portrayed by some great actors – Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench, and Willem Dafoe to name a few. I was pleasantly surprised to see Olivia Colman in the movie, a wonderful British actress who I first noticed in the BBC program, Broadchurch. Kenneth Branagh plays Hercules Poirot, the self-proclaimed greatest detective in the world. Yes, he’s arrogant but with good reason. He is able to solve mysteries that stump others largely due to the way he views the world. Poirot is obsessed with symmetry, perfection, and order. He’s almost a tortured soul in that regard – viewing the world as he thinks it should and could be, but disappointed in how it falls short. I could really relate to him on that score.
The story takes place on a train ride from Istanbul to Calais when twelve passengers come under suspicion after a murder takes place. Detective Poirot is intent on having a vacation in which he wants to do nothing more than read “A Tale of Two Cities.” But after the murder takes place and an avalanche has stopped the Orient Express, Poirot is reluctantly drawn into solving the murder. As he interrogates all the passengers and searches for clues, you can see his transformation from reluctant sleuth to determined detective bent on discovering the killer before he/she strikes again. I loved the use of camera angles in this movie, particularly the overhead shots which cleverly helped you to see clearly into the tight spaces of the train. Being a mystery, the pacing has to start slow while building up to a quick conclusion in which all the clues come together to reveal the culprit. Since I have not read the book, I do not know if the movie had glaring oversights or blunders. All I know is that I enjoyed watching the mystery unfold and I really had no idea how it would end. I’ve seen a lot of discussion about Poirot’s incredible mustache but I think it speaks to who he is as a person and I, for one, would like to see him in another movie.