Death on the Nile
Updated: Feb 14, 2022
Director: Kenneth Branagh
One of the nicest things about this very classical take on Agatha Christie’s ‘Death on the Nile’ is that we are hoping on hope that Poirot (Branagh) will embark on a late-life romance with the sultry jazz/blues crooner Salome Otterbourne (Sophie Okonedo). When he loosens up enough to mumble to this sophisticated ‘looker’ who packs a pistol in her turban, that he would like to return to a small cottage and grow a new, more intensely flavoured marrow in his retirement… well, our hearts melt. Salome Otterbourne’s heart too is touched just a little at this clueless attempt to woo her.
Our interest in old Poirot’s emotional interior is initially piqued by a short, black-and-white segment at the beginning of the film. Set in World War One, the segment reveals that Poirot’s moustache is the outcome of a disfiguring explosion, and that it was the love of his life who suggested that he grows it when he is trying to completely damage the rest of his life in a surge of self pity … by dumping his fiancée, dumping his hopes and dreams, and essentially hiding from the world. Sadly, while fiancée makes sure Poirot is completely aware of her cherishing love, WW1 doesn’t spare her life.
Branagh as director frames absolutely all the deceptions, greed and murders on ‘Death on the Nile’ in terms of love. A glamorous and beautiful heiress Linnet Ridgeway-Doyle (Gal Gadot) steals her best friends fiancée because, well, they are in love. Said best friend Jacqueline De Bellefort (Emma Mackey) stalks the newly wedded couple, making it obvious that she is carrying a pistol because … well, she is still madly and passionately in love.
And then the rest of it. Poirot's young confidante Bouc (Tom Bateman), son of a wealthy woman (Annette Bening) who refuses to let him go, is madly in love with a woman but does not have a penny to his spendthrift name. Our heiress’ companion Louise Bourget (Rose Leslie), had her own beau ‘bought’ by our heiress in Linnet’s well-meaning attempt to show her companion that he did not really love her. Socialist godmother Marie Van Schuyle (Jennifer Saunders) and her nurse (Jennifer Saunders) are in fact a covert lesbian couple, and a young doctor (Russell Brand) accompanying the wedding party was engaged to Linnet until the smitten fiancé met her new husband. So many reasons for crimes of passion and as many opportunities to murder, on the massive and slowly moving vessel that is carrying the wedding party up the Nile.
Nothing out-of-the-box about this rendition of Agatha Christie except the peek into a young Poirot’s life, but it is beautifully clad, stunningly shot, and as engaging executed as the original text.
If you’d enjoy a whodunnit with heady romance and lots of eye-candy you won’t be disappointed.
Old-fashioned and solidly entertaining ‘Death on the Nile’ is enlivened by its all-star cast and director-star Kenneth Branagh's obvious fun in its creation.