death on the nile
director: kenneth branagh (Belfast, murder on the orient express)
starring: kenneth branagh, gal gadot, tom bateman, and annette benning
REVIEWER: nick tonkin
While on vacation on the Nile, Hercule Poirot must investigate the murder of a young heiress.
Death on the Nile is the latest adaptation of a classic Agatha Christie work by director Kenneth Branagh, who also stars as the legendary detective Hercule Poirot.
With an expansive roster of talented actors, a tasteful mix of strong production design and CGI both giving life to the film’s early to mid-twentieth setting, and Branagh’s engaging direction, Death on the Nile is a riveting and stylish adaptation of the classic novel.
This is Branagh’s second outing following 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express, from which Tom Bateman’s Bouc returns. Besides Bouc and Branagh’s Poirot, Nile sports an all new cast, which includes; Gal Godot, Jennifer Saunders, Letitia Wright and an understated Russel Brand to name just a few. It surely must be a challenge for a filmmaker to utilise such a large ensemble of actors, especially when they are all well known talents.
However, Branagh and writer Michael Green navigate this well; naturally each character is explored when they inevitably come under scrutiny from Poirot, but everyone also contributes to the setting of the stage in clever little ways prior to the tragedy that requires Poirot’s inimitable acumen.
Death on the Nile also takes a moment to examine Poirot’s past in striking fashion; through a sequence that explores a key period of his time in The Great War. He learns from this time that authority cannot always be trusted, and that his acumen won’t be able to save everyone. Age and success have faded older Poirot’s memory of the latter lesson, with a degree of egotism and vanity taking its place.
Death on the Nile explores this character shift keenly, testing Poirot’s hubris, questioning why he is the man he has allowed himself to become. With Branagh’s excellent performance providing the necessary gravitas, it’s all very compelling without slipping into unbelievability.
Death on the Nile is a thrilling and stylish take on the classic murder mystery, with an impressive cast and an excellent turn by Kenneth Branagh as Detective Poirot.