Murder on the Orient Express. Yes, there was a murder, a murder of our rights as viewers
Updated: Mar 12, 2018
Murder on the Orient Express ..... oh dear Kenneth, you lost me at first glimpse of your RIDICULOUS tash and your stupid wannabe Belgian russian accent. Was there even a murder mystery?! All I got to see was overindulgent closeups of your orange face, and an abundance of CGI.. and the occasional line from an all-star cast. Disappointing indeed.
I don't even feel bad for shaming this film directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh - a film that had such potential with it's gleaming all star cast (Michelle Pfieffer, Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Judy Dench, Penelope Cruz, William Dafoe, Olivia Coleman, Josh Gad...oh and Kenneth Branagh is actually in it too) and grounding in the magnificent Agatha Christie's Poirot stories. But, no. This film was just the Kenneth show, grounded in not Agatha's cleverly astute murder mystery, but in... Kenneth.
After deciding that I would sit through this strange experience, having got past the drawn out opening scenes in which not two, but four boiled eggs make an appearance, and that god-awful moustache, which by the way, you will NEVER get used to because it's just so ridiculous (it's actually impossible, to have a moustache like that - so why do it Ken? Why?) I managed to get to the part where (I thought) the juice of the story was to take place: you know, the part where all the famous people enter and we get to see some juicy on-screen relationships, have time to invest in some characters, be shocked when someone dies, and be even more shocked when we find out who the murderer is, who is in fact NOT who we put our money on. But again, NO - this does not happen. Because Kenneth, or should I say Poirot, takes up so much screen-time that we are denied this basic right as viewers, to actually invest in the characters and the plot...and to generally just know what on earth is going on.
The film attempts to engage us cinematographically, as the camera voyeurs in through the windows of the Orient Express train as each character enters - but this was actually disjunctive, and even more disconnecting - it would have been better to have a Birdseye view of the spatially compact hallway, in which characters would then be forced into some intimate and exposing situations they encounter each character/guest.
And then there is the CGI - of everything. Why not just film in the alps? Would it have been that much more expensive than all of the CGI'd mountains? Something felt lazy about this film; pulling us in through beautiful actors and actresses and our patriotism to Judy Dench, but then slapping us in the face with Ken, whose character seems to have forgotten that he is based on an actually intelligent writer's creation of a neurotic, astute and highly observant detective - but that would mean he would have to give characters the time to actually speak.