British private investigator Charles Haywood (Max Irons) is visited by his former love Sophia Leonides (Stefanie Martini), daughter to industrial tycoon, Aristide Leonides. Jilted by her in Cairo, he wants nothing to do with her but she desperately needs his help. She believes her father has been murdered and her life may be in danger from her own family. Agreeing to take the case, Charles journeys to the family estate where Aristide’s extended family each have their own motive for murder.
Director Gilles Paquet-Brenner‘s movie is a murder mystery draped in all the production design and period details you would expect from a film bearing Agatha Christie’s name. However unlike Kenneth Branagh’s valiant attempt to inject originality into the Agatha Christie franchise with his ‘Murder On The Orient Express’, the same cannot be said here.
… an adaptation that has been overly faithful to its source material.
Feeling like an adaptation that has been overly faithful to its source material, ‘Agatha Christie’s Crooked House’ feels leaden and labyrinthine in its telling. The usual cross section of suspects that span both the ages and political divides have been assembled for our consideration. Each sharpening their own resentments in their private rooms, ‘Crooked House’s’ storyline takes you around the entire house, leaking tension with each new introduction. That said, within the assembled cast, Glenn Close seems to be having fun. Clipping her accent as keenly as the estate’s hedges, her matriarchal harridan is sly fun. Also Terrence Stamp’s Chief Inspector Taverner is good value, injecting sarcasm into the most procedural of proceedings. Sadly the main roles of Max Iron’s Charles Haywood and Stefanie Martini’s fail to set the screen on fire. In their tepid romance, she’s never fatale enough and he only follows when he’s led.
As a result, this period piece is neither arresting nor engrossing. As an ornate production to swallow up a cold, Sunday evening this movie might suffice, but this is no winter’s tale for the ages. Choking on stiff dialogue and even stiffer accents, this is one adaptation that would be best enjoyed as a book.