Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot is back in Kenneth Branagh’s hands once again for Death on the Nile. Branagh also returns as Poirot, the smartest detective in the world and he knows it. Annette Bening, Tom Bateman, Russel Brand, Gal Gadot, and more fill out the cast of characters on a trip down the Nile. I am not familiar with the source material, just like in 2017 when Branagh gave me my first exposure to Murder on the Orient Express.
The choice of Branagh to cast himself as the most important character was bold and must have thrown off the power dynamics on set. How could he possibly give himself notes? The performances of the rest of the cast feel melodramatic at times, this overacting feels stilted. I have seen solid performances from much of the cast before but there is something about their performances that feel like they are seeking approval and not just from Poirot.
Gal Gadot plays Linnet Ridgeway, a wealthy woman who recently married her friend’s fiancé. The love triangle is all stuck on the boat together when the body count starts. There is some horny dancing in this film. Gadot seduces Simon Doyle, Armie Hammer, with one single dance right after Jacqueline de Bellefort, Emma Mackey of Sex Ed fame, has a very seductive dance. Ridgeway and Doyle nearly have sex on the edge of ancient ruins as well as let Bellefort know how many times they are having sex each day. I do not think it adds much to the story and the choreography is not super impressive. The dance style feels out of place for the late 1930s.
The visuals are wonderful, and all the colors are over-saturated to please the eye. The locations of the film are real, so there is some reality in the portrayal of Egypt. The most I can take away from the film is a desire to visit Egypt. I may also open the original novel as the twists were interesting even if the pacing and acting were off. The film feels like Branagh trying to do himself a favor and point out how smart he is in and out of character and it does not sit well with me.