For someone who had loved reading Agatha Christie’s acclaimed novel – The Murder on The Orient Express, watching the characters come to life in a movie was a dream come true. We obviously expected a great deal from a movie based on the best-selling novel. The problem with making a movie based on a whodunit novel is that some people already know the entire plot. We ensured that we do not read up on the novel again, as to have no recollection of the novel & to judge the movie solely on its merit.
We had to catch the 10.45PM show. Due to the movie being in its second week since release. There were three shows per day. The movie had to better be good to compensate for us staying up & travelling late.
Kenneth Branagh stars as Agatha Christie’s legendary Belgian detective – Hercule Poirot.
He also dons the director’s hat for the movie. The movie boasts of an ensemble cast which includes Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Michelle Pfeiffer & William Dafoe among others.
The movie starts off with a Hercule Poirot prequel in 1934 Jerusalem. We are then transported to Istanbul, Turkey from where the famed Orient Express is scheduled to depart. We are then introduced to all the co-passengers (most of whom can shoulder a movie all by themselves). A day post departure, one of the characters is murdered & the trains get derailed due to a snowstorm. It is now up to Hercule Poirot to solve the mystery before the train is pulled to safety & the police arrives. The stage is set for a grand & engaging whodunit. The movie takes its time to get to the central plot, but once it does there never a dull moment.
The post interval part will keep you guessing about the culprit. There are several characters with a motive to kill the victim, but who killed him is a question you will be left grappling with. Within the last ten minutes of the movie the killer is revealed. Only those who have read the novel, could have guessed it right.
Kenneth Branagh has largely done character roles in the past & that bodes well for the movie. There is no baggage of previous roles. He carries out both his responsibilities – acting & directing very well. He gets into the skin of his character. He embodies all the eccentricities & mannerisms including the French accent of the legendary detective. Not for once will be able to detect his British descent. Post viewing the movie, Kenneth Branagh’s face will pop up in your head every time Poirot is mentioned. We loved the cinematography by Haris Zambarloukos. The movie is a visual treat. The Orient Express is the train version of The Titanic. The train looks luxurious.
Trivia: It is one of the few movies to be shot on 65mm film since the 1970’s
The only issue we had with the movie is its ensemble cast. There are some amazing actors in the movie. You can’t help but feel let down by how their talent has been unutilized. All the actors barring Branagh barely have a few scenes to display their histrionics on screen. The director could have just as well cast lesser known faces for these roles. Johnny Depp barely has 5-6 scenes in the movie & is not playing the lead as one might expect. What is an A-lister like him doing in a movie not revolving around him?
But barring this once hiccup, the movie is an absolute delight. It keeps you at the edge of your seats. You will definitely not repent watching it. We suggest you watch it soon!
Our Rating: ****/5 stars