Opening 29 Nov 2018
An English country house full of eccentric aristocrats and an upstanding chief inspector from Scotland Yard make up just about every story which Agatha Christie wrote. Crooked House is a perfect example of her style.
Charles (Max Irons) first met Sophia (Stefani Martini) in Cairo during World War Two. Now he’s a private detective in London and Sophia seeks him out as she suspects foul play in her grandfather’s death. At first Charles is reluctant to take on the case because his affair with Sophia had ended badly, but of course he does. He drives to the stately home where the family lives and meets Aunt Edith (Glenn Close) who is shooting moles in the garden with an ancient and noisy shotgun. Sophia introduces Charles to the rest of the family members. These include the sons of the dead patriarch and their wives, her younger brother Eustace (Preston Norman) and her little sister Clemency (Amanda Abingdon). They are oddbods, the lot of them!
So “whodunnit?” we ask ourselves, along with Charles and Chief Inspector Taverner (Terence Stamp) as the plot unfolds. The first suspect in any Agatha Christie novel is usually the new and glamorous second wife of the deceased and certainly everything points to Brenda (Christina Hendricks) at the beginning of the movie. As Charles meets the other members of the family, however, he—and we—realise that just about any of them could have done the dirty deed and we keep on guessing all the way to the end of the movie.
Despite the large cast of famous actors Crooked House falls flat. The plot is too ponderous and old fashioned and the characters are too predictable for modern audiences. The dramatic ending is memorable but the appetite for Agatha Christie movies is surely sated. We have just finished digesting last year’s boring blockbuster Death on the Nile, after all. (Jenny Mather)