I am a huge fan of murder mysteries, so when I heard about “Death on the Nile,” my interest was piqued. I didn’t really have an understanding of the plot before starting the film—all I knew was that someone was killed—so I wasn’t sure what to really expect when watching it. After finishing the movie, I found that it was good, but there were certain aspects of it that just didn’t necessarily work for me. I am aware that the movie is based on the novel by the same name by Agatha Christie, and while I haven’t read it, I assume that the plot is quite similar, if not the same. However, since I have only seen the movie, I plan to review the film as if this was its decided plot, rather than being predetermined.
To give a brief description of the parameter of the movie, Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) is a famous detective and ends up being invited to the wedding party of Linnet Ridgeway (Gal Gadot) and Simon Doyle (Armie Hammer) by his friend Bouc (Tom Bateman). As he spends time with the various other people invited, he learns about their various relationships with Linnet, and also the constant appearance of Jacqueline de Bellefort (Emma Mackey) who was Linnet’s best friend and is Simon’s ex-fiance. As the group all find themselves on a boat on the Nile River, (a failed effort by Linnet and Simon to continue the celebration away from Jacqueline), a murder takes place, and Poirot rises to the challenge to find the murderer and bring them to justice.
As I said earlier, I love a good murder mystery. The collection of clues, the discovery of hidden secrets and the revelation of how everything fits together at the end always draw me in. However, for this particular film, I feel that there was too much time spent setting up the scenario. The death didn’t occur until about halfway through the movie, and while I did appreciate the sort of guessing game of “who is going to die?” while I waited for the actual murder to occur, I feel that making viewers wait so long for the revelation isn’t necessarily the best decision, and could lead to impatience and a loss of interest. I think the information provided, the setup of the different characters and their various relationships and possible motives should have been introduced in a shorter time span, giving a balance between character establishment and viewer attention span.
In terms of aspects of the film that I loved, I’d like to specify the characters and the way that the actors portrayed them. For one, the way that Branagh played Poirot was, to put it simply, fantastic. I immediately was drawn to him not only as a detective but as a person as well. This appreciation also extended to Rosalie Otterbourne (Letitia Wright), whose playful nature, honesty, confidence and determination made me root her on from behind the screen. It is quite clear that she inherited that nature from her aunt, Salome Otterbourne (Sophie Okonedo), whose balance of flirts, humor and positivity with her self-confidence and laid back nature helped solidify her as one of my favorites, alongside the other two. Even Jacqueline, who is portrayed as a nuisance and antagonistic, garnered my sympathies, the pain that plagued her from heartbreak so clearly portrayed on screen. I could go on and talk about the way that all of the cast, but I will sum it up with this. The characters were all played to perfection, and played with my emotions with the utmost success.
Before I sign off, there are two quick things that I would like to touch on. First is the way that love works in the story. There is the overall love between Linnet and Simon, the heartbreak of Jacqueline for a lover that left her and various other discussions of love throughout the whole film that I’ll keep unspoiled. I didn’t expect such an inclusion, and I definitely didn’t think that it would be so important. I feel that because the film decided to examine and speak on the various love lives of the characters, there were moments where the film lost some of the focus on the actual murder mystery, and in turn, led to the plot feeling like it was being a bit derailed at points. However, I do recognize the importance of love to the film (and how it reflects individuals in real life) and there were moments when I loved the chemistry between two certain characters. I just feel that it made the movie less of a murder mystery and more of an analysis through the means of a murder mystery.
Secondly, the final revelation, and in turn, the solving of the mystery. I won’t spoil anything, but the way that the actors portrayed the various emotions in this scene was beautiful. Poirot really made readers sympathize and understand how he was feeling at that moment, and the emotions of the accused were so interesting and vividly portrayed. The way that the situation was wrapped up after Poirot solved the mystery wasn’t necessarily satisfying to me, but I think taking into account the way that the story had progressed to that point, it made sense.
“Death on the Nile” is not just about death and love, but rather explores the various things people are capable of and are willing to do with the right motivation. The plot seems to focus more on analyzing this phenomenon rather than the actual murder, and while I do think that it does detract from the flow of the film at times, I can appreciate the analysis. Love can make people do the strangest things, after all.