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Saturday, June 15, 2024

A Haunting in Venice (Digital Movie Review)


The Film


An ultra-dark adaptation of another Agatha Christie novel, finds Kenneth Branagh reprising the role of detective Hercule Poirot as he takes on another murder mystery this time set in a lavish Venetian palazzo.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

In Murder on the Orient Express, the suspects were confined to a railroad car, and in Death on the Nile, they were crowded into a lounge on a river cruise ship. Actor-director Kenneth Branagh as Agatha Christie’s detective Hercule Poirot  will confront the latest group of suspects in a haunted Venetian palazzo.

Poirot’s quiet retirement in 1947 Venice is interrupted by a visit from famous mystery writer Ariadne Oliver (Tina Fey) who convinces him to attend a Halloween séance at the luxurious palazzo of opera diva Rowena Drake (Kelly Reilly). Ariadne’s book sales have slumped and once they are at the seance, she is hoping Poirot will debunk the medium Joyce Reynolds (Michelle Yeoh) hired by Rowena to communicate with her late daughter Alicia (Rowen Robinson) who drowned in a nearby canal. Also attending the séance are housekeeper Olga Seminoff (Camille Cottin), PTSD-rattled family doctor Leslie Ferrier (Jamie Dornan) who loves Rowena, his precocious young son Leopold (Jude Hill), and Joyce’s assistant Desdemona Holland (Emma Laird). Joyce uses Alicia’s voice to reveal that a guest at this séance murdered her. When Poirot discovers Desdemona’s half-brother Nicholas (Ali Khan) managing the séance’s special effects, the detective glibly calls this event a fraud.

A Haunting in Venice on Amazon Prime Video
  • Kenneth Branagh and Tina Fey in A Haunting in Venice (2023)
  • Michelle Yeoh in A Haunting in Venice (2023)
  • Tina Fey, Kelly Reilly, Emma Laird, Jude Hill, Riccardo Scamarcio, Camille Cottin, Nicholas Holland, Kyle Allen, Maxime S. Girard, and Ali Khan in A Haunting in Venice (2023)
  • Kenneth Branagh in A Haunting in Venice (2023)
Michelle Yeoh, Jude Hill, Camille Cottin, Jamie Dornan, Kyle Allen, and Maxime S. Girard in A Haunting in Venice (2023)
  • A Haunting in Venice (2023)
  • A Haunting in Venice (2023)
  • Kenneth Branagh in A Haunting in Venice (2023)
  • A Haunting in Venice (2023)

Later, while bobbing for apples in a large bowl of water, an unseen individual nearly drowns Poirot in the bowl. Fortunately, Ferrier resuscitates the detective who begins to experience hallucinations—first seeing  Alicia’s ghost and then hearing an invisible girl hum a tune. After Joyce’s body is found impaled on a statue in the palazzo courtyard, an unexpected guest, chef Maxime Gerard (Kyle Allen), appears. He was once engaged to Alicia but broke it off because Rowena considered him not “good enough” for her daughter, and this may have led to Alicia’s apparent suicide. As a heavy rainstorm effectively seals off those still inside the palazzo for the night, Poirot now must solve what he believes is a murder case and hopes to discover the source of his hallucinations and their link to what really happened to Alicia.

As is typical in the Branagh-led performances of silver screen adaptations of Christie novels, in this case Hallowe’en Party, A Haunting is a dialogue-driven film which moves deliberately through a nearly claustrophobic dark backdrop as the ace detective gradually uncovers his clues. This film is blessed with a superb cast that makes the most of a storyline that, if not quite the equal of its two predecessors, never fails to entertain despite confusing twists that permeate screenwriter Michael Green’s overly complex plot. Agatha Christie excelled in keeping tight reins on her characters and the use of a heavy storm that enshrouds them in the oppressive darkness of the Palazzo Marlipiero’s interior is underscored by veteran film composer Hildur Gudnadottir’s atmospheric score. The superb camerawork by Haris Zambarloukos who collaborated with Branagh on the two prior Christie films sealed the deal for me as it will for the fans of what is now a Christie trilogy. Recommended.

A Haunting in Venice is now available for viewing on Disney+, Amazon Prime, Hulu and Apple TV

A Haunting in Venice on Amazon Prime Video
  • Rating Certificate: PG-13 (for some strong violence, disturbing images and thematic elements)
  • Studios & Distributors: 20th Century Studios | Kinberg Genre | Scott Free Productions | TSG Entertainment | The Mark Gordon Company | Walt Disney Motion Picture Studios
  • Director: Kenneth Branagh
  • Written By: Michael Green
  • Country: USA
  • Language: English
  • Run Time: 143 Mins.
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Release Date: 15 September 2023

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An ultra-dark adaptation of another Agatha Christie novel, finds Kenneth Branagh reprising the role of detective Hercule Poirot as he takes on another murder mystery this time set in a lavish Venetian palazzo.A Haunting in Venice (Digital Movie Review)