Review Round Up: Death on the Nile

Kenneth Branagh reprises his role as Agatha Christie’s famous detective – but has it won over the critics?

The Guardian: ** “Branagh brings something spirited and good-humoured to the role of Poirot, but the film’s attempt to create some romantic stirrings to go with the activities of those little grey cells is not very convincing.”

The Independent: ** “In its defence, the film is perfectly adequate. Branagh’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s 1937 murder mystery is texturally conventional, even if he’s made his own adjustments to the cast of suspects. Much like 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express before it, it’s a Christie adaptation for the age of slowed-down pop jams played over film trailers: sheenful and ultimately hollow.”

Den of Geek: *** “when there is actually a death on the Nile, and the mystery takes center stage, Death on the Nile becomes an increasingly suspenseful, fast-paced, and twisty thriller involving stolen pearls, more death–some of it quite grisly–a complicated plan, and a pistol or two. It’s quite engrossing, a credit to the structure of Christie’s plotting and the screenplay’s largely faithful rendering of it (although some characters have been changed).”

Variety: “The new film is crisper and craftier than “Murder on the Orient Express”; it’s a moderately diverting dessert that carries you right along. It never transcends the feeling that you’re seeing a relic injected with life serum, but that, in a way, is part of its minor-league charm.”

Deadline: “Branagh has made sure all the expected bells and whistles are provided, teaming again with many of his longtime collaborators including those who worked on his Oscar contender Belfast. There is the luscious cinematography of Haris Zambarloukos using 65MM cameras, and superb production design by Jim Clay. Paco Delgado and JobJit Singh’s gorgeous period costumes fit the bill, and the music by Patrick Doyle is right up to the usual standards of this exceptional composer.”

The “Why “Death” ultimately chugs and churns along, rather than floats, is that — as is so often with Branagh, even in a small-scale work like his Oscar-season hit “Belfast” — his direction is a stylistic hodgepodge that rarely feels grounded. Here, that means off-kilter melodramatics (from Gadot, Mackey and Hammer) clashing with silkier turns (Okonedo, Bening, even a better-than-last-time Branagh); Haris Zambarloukos’ 65mm cinematography achieving colorful sumptuousness one scene and jarring effects artificiality the next; and the director’s virtuosity jonesing when it comes to elaborate tracking shots and why-that angles. Besides, the whole thing is already ludicrous enough without cartoony cutaways to predators snatching and eating prey.” “It does feel like a mistake to deliver certain key bits of sleuthing in rapid-fire dialogue exchanges while the picture languishes so much in other, less narratively significant scenes. Even so, it all winds up being fairly likable, a pleasant diversion whose grandiosity just becomes part of its quaint charm. And it feels old-fashioned in this sense: You can duck into it for a couple of hours to lose yourself in the spectacle of these people being demonically nasty to each other, and thus get away from the more mundane nastiness of the world.”

Rolling Stone: “Kenneth Branagh’s latest attempt to establish an Agatha Christie Extended Universe hits a snag, thanks to a not-so-little leading-man problem.”

Death on the Nile is out in cinemas now.

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