– Warning: Spoiler Alert! –
In a spur of the moment, we decided to watch Murder on the Orient Express last night. To be honest, I’m not a fan of Kenneth Branagh as an actor (no reason, I just don’t) and didn’t want to have my image of Poirot (in the form of David Suchet) ruined by him. It appeared, however, that I was the only one in my family who knew the story of MotOE. So we had to go.
It took me a while to get used to seeing Mr. Branagh in the role of Poirot. He didn’t have a chubby tummy, nor was he short or have the peaked, black mustache David Suchet used to sport. He did have an exceptional mustache though. Only one third into the movie did I realize his mustache was actually two mustaches. Like the mustache, Mr. Branagh’s performance grew on me. He was hardly recognizable, disappearing into his role as Poirot, and he played him excellently. The cinematography was stunning. One ‘but’ I have is the movement of the camera up and down a train carriage, and I literally mean a vertical movement. It was used at least twice. The first time we follow Poirot in thought looking out the window and this is okay. The second time we see a conversation between Poirot and one of the passengers interviewed. The movement of the camera makes no sense here and took me out of the story. Often, directors decide on a weird, unconventional camera actions… and it doesn’t work. Such a shame.
The cast was well chosen, with appearances of Penelope Cruz, William Dafoe (forever the Green Goblin in my eyes), Judi Dench (aged 82!), Johnny Depp, Derek Jacobi (aged 79!), and Michelle Pheiffer to name the most famous ones. All the actors played their role exceptionally well. I have never read the books of Agatha Christie, so I can’t compare the movie to her story. What struck me about the plot, afterward, is that Poirot interviews all passengers and finds a reason for murder for all of them. What is not shown is that he dismisses the reason of his previous suspects when he finds a new one. Surely you would start to doubt yourself when you find so many reasons for murder in so many suspects. There is no reasoning as to why one would have committed the murder over another, only the quick epiphany at the end. Strange.
A great movie to watch to enjoy excellent performances and an early 20th-century setting.