Political Film Review #653


In the beginning of Death on the Nile, Agatha Christie’s creation, Hercule Poirot (played by the director, Kenneth Branagh), is a soldier in a trench during World War I (something added by screenplay writer Michael Green along with prominent Black actresses to distinguish the film of the same title of 1978 that starred Peter Ustinov).  His British commander has a battle plan, but Poirot suggests that ground conditions favor another plan. Poirot’s plan prevails, appears to work, but a pipe bomb blows up injuring his squad, thus apparently trying to explain his ultra-stylish moustache.

The film soon jumps to 1937, when Simon Doyle (Armie Hammer) and Linnet Ridgeway (Gal Gadot) fall in love and marry. Next comes their honeymoon cruise along the Nile. But somehow Doyle’s formerly girlfriend, Jacqueline de Bellefort (Emma Mackey), also takes the cruise, saying peculiarly that she booked the cruise before she knew who else would be on board.

As one might expect in a mystery story about a love triangle, one day Linnet is found dead, Doyle is shot in the leg, and an apparent witness is murdered later. Poirot then roughly interrogates several persons, exposing what their motivations might have been for the murder until he finally reveals the plot.

A film reviewer, of course, cannot reveal who is the culprit, though clues may be obvious to perspicacious filmviewers. What is special about Death on the Nile is the fake but spotless cinematography, fantastic costuming, dance music, and stiff acting to portray to snobbery of those playing roles of the super-rich. Fast-talking Branagh’s mumbling is quite a contrast from the eloquent Peter Ustinov.   MH



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