[Review] Murder on the Orient Express

With the cap of director and actor, Kenneth Branagh tries to revive the myth of the Crime of the Orient Express. A train, a murder, thirteen suspects and … A …

With the cap of director and actor, Kenneth Branagh tries to revive the myth of the Crime of the Orient Express . A train, a murder, thirteen suspects and … A good movie?

Agatha Christie may be one of the world’s best-known writers, but the latest adaptations of her works are starting to smell like mothballs. Following the trend initiated by Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes , Kenneth Branagh has therefore decided to bring the Briton’s writings up to date.

Like any bestseller, Murder on the Orient Express presents a double challenge. That of putting in images a story of which the majority of people know the end, while respecting the cinematographic heritage of the version of Sydney Lumet (1974).

Obviously delighted to play Hercule Poirot, Branagh chooses to weave a more humorous portrait of the famous Belgian investigator. It must be admitted that English has little to do with its predecessors, which could irritate many fans of the character. The fine mustache of the distinguished Albert Finney is replaced here by a glorious Bacchante, which underlines a real focus on the character.

owever, he surrounds himself with a recognized cast, made up of Johnny Deep, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penelope Cruz and Judi Dench. The first part of the film juggles quite well between each of them, offering interesting presentation sketches. Michael Greene (who also officiated as a screenwriter on the recent Blade Runner 2049 ) manages to capture the post-colonial atmosphere inherent in the time, evoking the polite racism of a certain bourgeoisie. But as the film progresses, this plethora of actors tends to cause a feeling of stacking up that can take away from the readability of the narrative.

Branagh once again takes care of the form and delivers a truly aesthetic film. The use of digital special effects is ingenious, and some shots effectively reinforce the feeling of being in camera. We swing from window to window as we do with potential suspects.

The director nevertheless has the good idea of ‚Äč‚Äčairing his staging by sprinkling it with small sequences outside, while the train is blocked by snow. The opening scene, in a Jerusalem in turmoil, is one of the film’s most successful.

While trying to respect the original story, he diffuses the clues in a trickle, often allowing himself almost humorous digressions from the investigation. This tends to overload the last part of the film, which then hastens to explain everything to the viewer. The confusion that emanates from it does not detract from the ingenious final thought by Agatha Christie, but will perhaps surprise those who do not know its content.

If the comparison with the old film does not really plead in its favor, especially in terms of tension, the feature film finds its salvation in the treatment of its hero. Branagh’s deceptively French accent is annoying, but the reflection around his vision of justice brings a real freshness.

It breaks the inflexible image linked to Hercule Poirot, and brings the touch of humanity that the rest of the cast lacks. This desire for attachment to the main character is confirmed in the announcement of a sequel that will take us to the Nile …