“Death on the Nile” is a remake of the 1978 film version of one of Agatha Christie’s best known novels starring Belgian detective extraordinaire Hercule Poirot. This film is a glamorous trip into the past, on a voyage down the Egyptian river with spectacular scenery all around. The voyage is filled with beautiful people, all dressed like fashion icons who are almost more splendid to gaze upon than the Egyptian wonders all around them.
The mystery/thriller stars Kenneth Branagh, who also directed, as the incomparable sleuth who uses his ‘little grey cells’ to outwit any criminal. The film gets off to a slow start, as we are introduced to each of the characters invited to the celebrity wedding of the season. This diverse cast of characters are even invited along on the honeymoon.
The wealthy socialite bride (Gal Gadot) is madly in love with her handsome playboy groom (Armie Hammer), even though he’s left a few broken hearts behind. His last fiancé, (Emma Mackey) stalks the wedding party everywhere they go…even mysteriously finding her way onto the exclusive river cruise when they try leaving her behind.
Death on the Nile cast
The all-star cast includes Annette Bening as the wealthy mother of Poirot’s adventurous young friend Bouc (Tom Bateman).She disapproves of his newfound love with Rosalie (Letitia Wright) who manages her nightclub singer mom (Sophie Okonedo). Dr. Bessner, a lovelorn former fiancé of the bride, is also onboard. Ali Fazal is the bride’s cousin and accountant. Rose Leslie plays the bride’s assistant, and Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders are middle-aged traveling companions who round out the ensemble cast.
For those who haven’t read Christie’s novels or seen the 1978 film version, there are more than enough twists and turns to keep you guessing once the pace picks up and the bodies start falling. Emma Mackey steals the show with her fiery performance as the groom’s former fiancé who is deranged by passion and looking for revenge.
On a personal note, I am an avid fan of the Poirot TV series that airs weekly on KERA, our local PBS station. So it was a little disconcerting to see someone other than David Suchet play Poirot. While Branagh is taller, younger, and far more handsome, he’s also far more serious and lacks the twinkle in his eye the more debonair Suchet displays. He is, however, a much better actor than director in this role he obviously relishes.
Death on the Nile is rated PG-13 for violence, some bloody images, and sexual material). This is probably not a film to watch with your pre-teens, since it features some of the dirtiest dancing you’ll see on a ballroom floor plus lots of talk about S-E-X. The drama/crime/mystery/thriller’s script is written by Michael Green. The film is distributed by 20th Century Studios, and runs two hours and seven minutes. It opens wide in the Dallas area Feb. 11.