Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
My Rating: 4.5 stars
Age Suggestion: 14+
About the Movie
Directed by Kenneth Branagh, based on the book by Agatha Christie
PG-13, 1 hour 54 minutes
When a murder occurs on the train he’s traveling on, celebrated detective Hercule Poirot is recruited to solve the case. (from IMDb)
First of all, let’s talk about what an amazing cast this movie has. The cast list features all-star after all-star, and every single character is cast perfectly.
Obviously Branagh himself, as Poirot, is amazing. I also especially liked Daisy Ridley (of Star Wars fame) as Mary Debenham; it’s a very different character from Rey, but she does it extremely well. And let’s not forget Sergei Polunin, who plays ballet dancer Count Andrenyi and looks the part spectacularly, since he happens to be an actual ballet dancer!
I do wish some of the characters and their relationships had been developed a bit more, but that’s hard to do in a movie with so many characters.
Full disclosure: I hadn’t read the book in a very long time, so I went into the movie not comparing it at all. I heard from some people that it wasn’t true to the book and they were disappointed by that, but since I wasn’t comparing it, that didn’t hinder my enjoyment.
I found the plot to be well-paced and engaging. However much of it came from Christie, she was a master of the detective novel, and the twists and turns and red herrings and connections and surprises were great. I had also forgotten nearly everything (which I highly recommend *smile*) so the ending was a surprise all over again, just like the first time I read the book! Isn’t that the best feeling?
In addition to the great plot and characters, it is stunningly filmed, a visual feast. The costuming and design of the train’s interior are great, and the landscape scenes are absolutely gorgeous. The music, too, is amazing. It was no surprise when I found out it was by Patrick Doyle – all of his music is incredible (Thor, Cinderella, Hamlet…).
While there isn’t a lot of deep theme, that doesn’t really matter for this genre, and I wasn’t expecting it. But even without thematic depth, the movie is very emotionally intense, especially at the end. Not to mention it’s just a very intense movie in general. The murder is fairly graphic, while in a tasteful way, and the subject matter of the entire movie makes it have a dark feel all the way through; so keep that in mind if you’re planning on watching it.
(In terms of other content, there is one character who has had several husbands and there are several innuendos/things implied about her, plus a very sensual moment between her and one of the men on the train – no touching, but their conversation and body language is pretty PG-13. There are some other innuendos and a little mild language throughout, and one character who drinks a lot.)
Overall, this movie is fantastic, both in the scripting/acting and in the cinematography/music aspects. Visually stunning, it drew me in and got me very invested in the murder and the characters. If you’ve read the book recently, or often, you might have to mentally separate the two in order to really enjoy it. But if you can do that, and if you can handle the intensity of the subject matter, this is a movie well worth seeing!
Have you seen Murder on the Orient Express? How did you like it? Are you a book purist, or were you, like me, able to separate the two? Any other Patrick Doyle fans out there?? Leave a comment and let me know!