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Film Review: Murder on the Orient Express

By Dennis Harvey-Hepherd

Since 1974 there have been at least five major productions of Murder on the Orient Express, so how do the makers keep the latest incarnation fresh and appealing?

Well, they have done a number of things, first and foremost, put a great director in the chair with a great actor in the lead. In this case, both are the same person, Kenneth Branagh, who dominates this film with a far richer, multi-faceted Poirot than any I have seen on screen, big or small.

His Hercule Poirot is an eccentric, sentimental, razor-sharp detective. He also gives time to generating an in-depth portrait of why Poirot is the self-proclaimed “Great Detective”. By doing this, new audiences will have some understanding of Agatha Christie’s hero.

The second step is to populate the Orient Express with a full cast of A-list actors. All deliver first class performances, including the younger stars who really impress next to their noble elders.

Third, you create an atmosphere of claustrophobia mystery and fear. This is achieved by making the sets so tight that, for several scenes, the only place to put the camera is in the ceiling.

Finally, you place the train in a totally realistic setting, both historically (by referencing actual events with just the names changed) and visually (with restrained but convincing use of CGI to convince you they are in the mountains).

I think we are guaranteed another outing for the ‘Great Detective’ fairly soon. I left the cinema feeling very satisfied by a great story well told.

The full 5 out of five stars for Mr Branagh and company.

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