Yesterday I thoroughly enjoyed a magical cinema event. I use the word magical because Murder on the Orient Express takes you out of your own reality and places you in another world that is not macabre or dangerous but filled with beautiful people, exquisite dialogue, snowcapped mountain landscapes and sumptuous costumes. The exquisite cinematography alone was worth the cost of admission.
Murder on the Orient Express has many aspects to applaud. It has a good portrait of some 18th century look with all those etiquettes and manners. The movie is fully loaded with the story many already know, with a few different suspects that made it intriguing. Please don’t compare it with the novel lest you lose the momentum of this cinematic whodunit.
The supporting cast includes some big names including the likes of Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Dame Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Derek Jacobi and Michelle Pfeiffer. All play their roles well, but because, Branagh himself apart, this is very much an ensemble effort, it would be difficult to single any of them out for special praise.
However, one thing that took me off-guard was that Johnny Depp was not only not the star of the film, he was playing one of the least interesting characters in the whole film. What also took me by surprise was how much I enjoyed Kenneth Branagh’s interpretation of the character of ‘Hercule Poirot’. He was captivating to watch. He left me undoubtedly wanting more. I would happily welcome a follow-up film (which may or may not have been hinted at in the film).
Whereas Agatha Christie understood human nature in its myriad forms, Kenneth Branagh so fabulously unveils in his Murder on the Orient Express. Yes, he has assembled a world class cast of superstar actors, but it’s Branagh himself, both as actor and Director, who pulls the real tale of loss, unrequited grief and revenge, of this story out brilliantly. You don’t get much more powerful emotions in human existence and these are wonderfully executed in this film.
I highly recommend Murder on the Orient Express as a “not to be missed” film. It’s fantastic, even if you know the plot. Go and see it and watch this wonderful tale again from a different perspective. This is a tale which plumbs the depths of human existence: what Poirot calls ‘the poison of deep grief.’ Fabulous.