Kenneth Branagh ‘s predilection for reinterpretations of the classics finds in Agatha Christie a very different challenge from his old.
Shakespearean works, based on works that have now become universal (if not archetypal). Already Assassinio sull’Orient Express expressed the need to mediate between contemporaneity and tradition, but Murder on the Nile takes an even longer step, regardless of whether you appreciate it or not.
The prologue is already emblematic in this sense: we are witnessing a crucial episode in the life of Hercule Poirot , during the Great War, which contributes to enriching his “myth” as a serial character, almost as if it were an origin story. Branagh and screenwriter Michael Green thus strive to attribute a past to the detective, with a precise characterization and an explanation of his formidable intuition, linked to an obsessive-compulsive syndrome: in short, a typical approach of contemporary crime writers, albeit based on original ideas. of the author (even in the novels Poirot is methodical and a lover of symmetries). Here we see him struggling with a cruise on the Nile, organized by the very wealthy Linnet Ridgeway Doyle( Gal Gadot ) and her new husband Simon Doyle ( Armie Hammer ). The couple are worried about the presence of Jacqueline De Bellefort ( Emma Mackey ), Simon ‘s ex-girlfriend , who seems intent on taking revenge on them. When a murder upsets the vacation, Poirot puts her nose into action: as usual, everyone is suspected.
In Branagh ‘s version , the Belgian detective becomes a more attractive, more agile, even more action-oriented man, and Murder on the Nile reflects this metamorphosis: a hero more consistent with the blockbuster imagery, from which the combination also derives. of real sets (the ship is splendid with its transparent surfaces) and CGI panoramas, sometimes a bit fake. It is not Agatha Christie’s Poirot , it is the Poirot of contemporary Hollywood, with its kitschy and idealizing taste. The film trudges through the long preparatory phase leading up to the murder, but from then on Branaghfinds the square of moments of suspense, making the narrative beautiful tense and exciting. The direction solutions are less daring than in Assassinio sull’Orient Express , but they remain solid and effective, especially for how they exploit the architectural elements of the setting.
The changes in the plot and in the characters also serve to accommodate the thrusts of an evolving world, more open to the need to include rather than exclude . If you accept the rules of the game – and a reinterpretation of its time – Murder on the Nile can at least offer good entertainment.