*note: this review was originally published on Patreon last month
After several years of delays (this movie was originally scheduled for 2019), I’ve finally gotten to see Death on the Nile, the second movie featuring detective Hercule Poirot from director and star Kenneth Branagh. As with the first film, Murder on the Orient Express, this film features an all star cast set, as the title implies, in Egypt. In fact most of the action takes place along the Nile River, and what a story it is!
Let me start off by saying that Death on the Nile was absolutely worth the wait. As with Murder on the Orient Express, I was almost immediately pulled in by the gorgeous cinematography that permeates Death on the Nile. I don’t know if this is part of Branagh’s style or something that’s just unique to the two Poirot films he’s made, but there’s an almost unique look and feel to these two films that I’ve seen nowhere else and it completely mesmerizes me.
You really do feel like you’ve been plopped down into Egypt circa 1937 (a much different place than the Egypt of today) and I can’t overstate how much I love this film’s attention to the little details. You can feel all the textures of the fabric, you can almost smell the food, and the colors just pop out everywhere.
And what’s even better is that the story is completely deserving of this rich and colorful backdrop. If you enjoy a good mystery, then Death on the Nile will keep you guessing for most of the film. There is one sub-plot that feels slightly shoehorned in (and I subsequently learned it’s original and not part of Agatha Christie’s novel, so that might explain that), but it’s not bad by any means. I have no complaints with the main plot. The solution to the mystery (if you haven’t read the source novel) might seem like a complete surprise, but the way the story is put together, it all seems super obvious in hindsight. I like how little clues are seeded throughout the story, little things that seem meaningless until Poirot calls attention to them. I feel like that will give a lot of rewatch appeal to the movie, because you’ll want to watch it over and over to see if you can see what Poirot does.
On top of all of this, Patrick Doyle puts in a magnificent score that perfectly suits the film’s Egyptian setting. At some point I hope to do a proper score review on my blog, but for now suffice to say the music of Death on the Nile alone is worth checking out. I love how the blues was integrated into the film’s score. I haven’t heard this much diegetic music in a film in a long time and I lord every bit of it!
Ok, now to address the elephant in the room: I know a lot of people are probably going to avoid this film because of everything that happened with Armie Hammer. I get that, I do, but if you ignore this film because of one part of the performance then you are seriously missing out. This film is so good, don’t let one bad apple (so to speak) keep you away from what is otherwise a great film.
I’ll say it again, do not sleep on Death on the Nile, it’s really good.
Let me know what you think about Death on the Nile in the comments below and have a great day!
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