Kenneth Branagh reprises his role as Detective Hercule Poirot in long-delayed adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile.
I went back and forth over whether or not I was going to watch this movie. It isn’t so much the film itself but because it’s based on a book by Agatha Christie. The thing about Christie is that she had a history of writing Jewish characters in an antisemitic way. Following World War II, Christie’s agent allowed US publishers to remove antisemitic passages in reprints of her books written before the war. The same could not be said of her publisher in England. One can make the argument that she went with the casual antisemitism of the era. According to Gillian Gill, Christie’s views of Jews were “different, alien, and un-English” but a Middle East trip in 1933 proved to be life-changing. Her views were never as rabid and vicious as Roald Dahl, who is blacklisted from this site.
In the sequel film, Branagh turns his attention to the 1937 novel (1938 in the US) set along the Nile. Michael Green’s script makes changes from the novel. Salome Otterbourne is a musician instead of being a romance novelist. Rosalie is her niece rather than daughter. Bouc and Euphemia are new characters to the film. If you’re familiar with the source material, it’s mostly the same except for some loose changes involving plot and characters. The gist of it is still the same in this third adaptation. Listen, it’s a murder mystery and you ought to know how the genre works by now.
You’re getting exactly what you are coming for: a death on the Nile. They’re offering a sale, too, because there are multiple deaths coming in various different ways and when you least expect them. Kind of like Slapsgiving, right? You know it’s coming but you don’t know when because it’s not like there’s a clock counting down until the next murder happens on or off screen. The cast is here for it and we completely buy them as suspects except for the ones who clearly have an alibi.
I had some thoughts when they get off the Karnak to visit Abu Simbel, a pair of rock-cut temples honoring Rameses II and Nefretiri. While it is a recreation, it does feel a bit awkward to see Gal Gadot walking in there. I say this because Jews shouldn’t be walking into non-Jewish temples/houses of worship. And again, this is a temple built in honor of the Pharaoh that almost certainly led Egypt during the Exodus.
Armie Hammer being in the cast is something that also hurts the film with what we know about him. I decided to pass on Crisis last year because of this. Will Hammer’s casting be something that ultimately hurts the film? Time will tell. I can say this: he takes up a sizable chunk of the film. Given schedules and the pandemic, reshoots would have been impossible.
Death on the Nile brings humor, tension, twists, and turns as audiences wait for Hercule Poirot to solve the murders.
DIRECTOR: Kenneth Branagh
SCREENWRITER: Michael Green
CAST: Kenneth Branagh, Tom Bateman, Annette Bening, Russell Brand, Ali Fazal, Dawn French, Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Rose Leslie, Emma Mackey, Sophie Okonedo, Jennifer Saunders, Letitia Wright
20th Century Studios releases Death on the Nile in theaters on February 11, 2022.
Please subscribe to Solzy at the Movies on Substack.