Kenneth Branagh’s film adaptation of Agatha Christie’s 1934 novel is a juicy fruitcake of a film (or, perhaps more accurately, a Belgian iced bun: a nostalgic pleasure, goes down easy, irresistible on a Sunday afternoon).
Everyone’s favourite mustachioed detective, Hercule Poirot (Branagh himself), has decided to take a holiday to read Charles Dickens and enjoy three days on the Orient Express “without care, concern or crime”. But, as we know, no good deed goes unpunished, and a murder inevitably occurs on board. Poirot sets about solving the delicious, chewy whodunnit, each of the train’s curio passengers a potential suspect.
The ensemble cast comprises an enjoyable mix of actor’s actors (the brilliant Olivia Colman), British institutions (Derek Jacobi, Judi Dench) and Hollywood movie stars (Johnny Depp, Willem Dafoe and Penélope Cruz), with Michelle Pfeiffer’s kittenish widow and Star Warsheroine Daisy Ridley’s fiery, principled governess the best of a very good bunch. The whole thing works especially well if you don’t remember the book’s original ending (or Sidney Lumet’s 1974 film), though it’s not exactly spoiled if you do. Written by Blade Runner: 2049scribe Michael Green, it doesn’t try (and so can’t fail) to reinvent Christie, though it does update her slightly, keeping the opulent colonial trappings but having characters call out the period’s racism.