Death on the Nile (12A)
Death on the Nile (12A)
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Runtime: 134 minutes
Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Tom Bateman, Annette Bening, Russell Brand, Ali Fazal, Dawn French, Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Rose Leslie, Emma Mackey, Sophie Okonedo, Jennifer Saunders, Letitia Wright
Synopsis: Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot’s Egyptian vacation aboard a glamorous river steamer turns into a terrifying search for a murderer when a picture-perfect couple’s idyllic honeymoon is tragically cut short. Set against an epic landscape of sweeping desert vistas and the majestic Giza pyramids, this tale of unbridled passion and incapacitating jealousy features a cosmopolitan group of impeccably dressed travellers, and enough wicked twists and turns to leave audiences guessing until the final, shocking denouement.
Directed by five-time Academy Award® nominee Kenneth Branagh, 20th Century Studios’ Death on the Nile is a daring mystery-thriller based on the beloved 1937 novel by acclaimed author Agatha Christie.
Murder is the name of the game in this gripping new Agatha Christie adaptation. Returning director Kenneth Branagh turns again to the Queen of Crime – following his successful adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express (2017) – revelling in a twisty and unpredictable story that is full of hairpin turns.
When a picture-perfect couple’s idyllic honeymoon is tragically cut short by a brutal murder, Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot’s Egyptian vacation aboard a glamorous river steamer turns into a terrifying search for the culprit. Set against an epic landscape of sweeping desert vistas and the majestic Giza pyramids, this tale of unbridled passion and incapacitating jealousy features a cosmopolitan group of impeccably dressed travellers and enough wicked twists and turns to keep audiences guessing until the final, shocking denouement
Death on the Nile reunites the filmmaking team behind the global hit Murder on the Orient Express and stars Kenneth Branagh [Belfast (2021)] as the iconic detective Hercule Poirot. He is joined by an all-star ensemble cast, including Tom Bateman, Annette Bening, Russell Brand, Ali Fazal, Dawn French, Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Rose Leslie, Emma Mackey, Sophie Okonedo, Jennifer Saunders and Letitia Wright. A screenplay by Academy Award nominee Michael Green is adapted from Christie’s novel, with all the ingredients for the perfect murder mystery: free-flowing champagne, Egyptian intrigue, breath-taking locations, including the historic Cataract Hotel (where Agatha Christie was staying when she began to write the book) and a familiar moustache.
As in 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express, Branagh plays the flamboyant, fastidious investigator, Hercule Poirot, but now fussy little Poirot comes complete with a new back story plus an origin story for that sensational moustache.
The dazzling cinematic settings of the explosive murder mystery, with a treacherous love story at the centre, are meticulously created by cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos, who takes audiences on a cinematic journey through the imagination of Agatha Christie, creating an elevated sense of energy and excitement on screen. The film is shot with 65mm Panavision cameras (the same ones used for Christopher Nolan’s Tenet (2020). Michael Green’s script emphasises the book’s themes of love and passion and also makes some bold changes in the process.
The beautiful score is by the distinguished, classically trained composer, Patrick Doyle, who has worked for many years in theatre, radio and television, and as composer and musical director for Branagh’s Renaissance Theatre from 1987. Doyle has collaborated with him since then and also has been commissioned to score over fifty international feature films collaborating with may acclaimed directors.
The dazzling costumes in Death on the Nile were created by Oscar® nominee Paco Delgado, in his first collaboration with director/producer Kenneth Branagh. A team of 65, including breakdown artists, dyers and milliners, among others, worked with the costume designer from idea through finished costumes. Delgado was immediately drawn to Branagh’s desire to bring a sense of modernity to the period. Delgado wanted the costumes to not only establish the social hierarchy of the 1930s but also to reflect the unique attributes of each character.
Christie’s Death on the Nile has a large cast – and thus potential suspects – which now includes composites to reduce the number of characters the audience must remember and changes to accommodate more diverse casting. Salome Otterbourne, a romance novelist in the book, instead becomes a Black blues singer (Sophie Okonedo). Whereas in the book she is accompanied by her daughter Rosalie, now Rosalie (Letitia Wright) is actually her niece and business manager.
Comedy duo Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French are reunited as the wealthy Marie Van Schuyler and her nurse companion Mrs. Bowers, but in the film, Marie Van Schuyler has actually given up her wealth and embraced communism, a nod to communist and secret lord Mr. Ferguson, a character in the book who has been cut. The movie’s Mrs. Bowers is similarly actually a composite of Marie Van Schuyler’s nurse Miss Bowers and cousin Cornelia Robson. Also, unlike in the book, they are lesbians. Linus Windlesham (a nearly unrecognizable Russell Brand) stands in for two characters.
The character Bouc, who was reimagined as young and dashing in Murder on the Orient Express, makes a surprise reappearance when Tom Bateman returns as Poirot’s associate Bouc, and he is joined by his fussy, overbearing mother Euphemia, played by the esteemed Oscar nominee Annette Bening [American Beauty (2020)] who could be a key suspect.
The dashing Simon Doyle [Armie Hammer – Call Me By Your Name (2017)] is newly betrothed to the glamorous heiress, Linnet [Gal Gadot – Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)], and is clearly smitten. When she is found dead, suspicion naturally falls on him – so is he the innocent victim, or the guilty party? Or is it the impulsive and jealous Jacqueline [Emma Mackey – Sex Education (TV 2019-21)] who was once a friend of Linnet, but now seethes with resentment that her ex-lover Simon has taken up with the glamorous heiress. Does she have a murderous motive?
“It is one of the most unsettling and captivating of Christie’s books. She presents a veneer of sophistication, sexiness, glamour and romance, but it is, at all times, brittle, fragile, dangerous and disruptive,” comments Branagh.
The dazzling and cinematic settings make Death on the Nile a very exciting prospect for the whole ensemble because everyone on board the S.S Karnak has a potential motive and opportunity to kill, he adds.
As the best-selling novelist and most celebrated storyteller of all time, Agatha Christie’s twisting, turning plots, deep understanding of human emotions and tremendous sense of fun continue to resonate with audiences eager to be thrilled by the inventor of the modern murder mystery.
Set sail on a deadly voyage down the Nile through the majestic splendour of ancient Egypt with a glittering cast and immaculate 1930’s mise-en-scene as an escape from recent times.
Images courtesy of Twentieth Century Studios