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Screen Dragon: Poirot in Venice – A Ghostly Backdrop to Branagh’s New Whodunnit

Published on: 18 Sep, 2023
Updated on: 18 Sep, 2023

By Mark Kitchen

In his latest Poirot adaptation, Kenneth Branagh takes on the horror genre in a post-World War II Venice, a city whose gothic architecture and fog-shrouded waterways are a fitting location for the paranormal activity that will ensue.

Our central character is drawn out of retirement by a murder that takes place in a dilapidated and supposedly haunted palazzo.

A psychic medium is employed to perform a séance to communicate with the victim and solve the case, an approach that Poirot is keen to debunk with his more logical and interrogative methods.

It is this interrogation that provides much of the film’s more gripping moments, as we see Poirot piecing together each character’s potential motives and forcing them to defend themselves.

Meanwhile, Poirot experiences the paranormal himself and we see him struggling to reach a rational explanation for it all. It is interesting to see him battle between logic and mysticism, but there are moments when this borders on absurdity and detracts from his usual detective prowess.

While each character’s backstory is cleverly interwoven into the main plot, any real depth to these characters is lacking, which makes it difficult to feel invested.

The storyline follows a fairly formulaic “whodunnit”, which causes it to feel somewhat stale, especially with the often slow pacing. Nevertheless, there are moments of surprise, the odd twist and turn and a few jump-scares that do enough to keep the viewer engaged.

As with 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express and last year’s Death on the Nile, Branagh’s portrayal of Poirot is ever-likeable. With witty dialogue and that iconic moustache, here is a protagonist who is amusing yet professional, suave yet focused.

Another notable performance comes from Jude Hill, who plays a war doctor’s son, with a touching role in supporting his traumatised father. This young actor is certainly one to look out for in future.

For those who enjoyed Branagh’s previous Agatha Christie adaptations, A Haunting in Venice will provide a similarly satisfying experience, but others may see this as a fairly mediocre outing overall.

Showing at Guildford Odeon.

Running time: 1hr 43 minutes

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Responses to Screen Dragon: Poirot in Venice – A Ghostly Backdrop to Branagh’s New Whodunnit

  1. Donna Collinson Reply

    September 21, 2023 at 1:49 pm

    Enjoyed this film, would be perfect for Halloween, otherwise the supernatural seems unwarranted. It is very dark, the antithesis of A Caribbean Mystery. The film is set in one night of a horrendous storm and there are light relief comedic references to Cluedo.

    The cinematography and sets are brilliant as per standard of the lavish Murder on the Orient Express. Acting spot on, questionable though the selling out of Hercule by long time friend and detective fiction writer Mrs Oliver. Jude Hill the little boy was brilliant.

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