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Murder On The Orient Express Movie Review

Murder on the Orient Express (2017)Kenneth Branagh

Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
Kenneth Branagh

Title: Murder On The Orient Express

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penélope Cruz, Dame Judi Dench, Sir Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr. Daisy Ridley, Lucy Boynton, Tom Bateman, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Josh Gad, Marwan Kenzari, Marwan Kenzari, Willem Dafoe, Olivia Colman.

The fascination of 70 mm will seduce the cinephiles, who nostalgically long for the celluloide of motion pictures. Kenneth Branagh, opts for the old-fashioned medium to reprise an Agatha Christie classic, wearing both the hat of director and that of lead character, playing the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot.

‘Murder On The Orient Express’ was first published in the United Kingdom by the Collins Crime Club in 1934, and has ever since been a classic detective story, that was adapted in a variety of ways, from BBC’s radio play to the 1974 movie directed by Sidney Lumet – to mention a couple.

This new 2017 version gathers a prestigious cast to stage the murder on the  passenger train where Poirot will solve the case: Johnny Depp (Mr. Ratchett), Michelle Pfeiffer (Mrs. Hubbard), Penélope Cruz (as Pilar Estravados, a Hispanic version of Greta Ohlsson), Dame Judi Dench (Princess Dragomiroff), Sir Derek Jacobi (Masterman), Leslie Odom Jr. (Dr. Arbuthnot), Daisy Ridley (Mary Debenham), Lucy Boynton (Countess Andrenyi), Tom Bateman (M. Bouc), Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (as Biniamino Marquez, a Cuban version of Antonio Foscarelli), Josh Gad (Hector MacQueen), Marwan Kenzari (Pierre Michel), Sergei Polunin (Count Andrenyi), Willem Dafoe (Gerhard Hardman), and Olivia Colman (Hildegarde Schmidt).

The angles that Branagh chooses to shoot his scenes are remarkable. We get acquainted with all the travelers of the train through a long shot that follows them from outside the windows of each wagon. And as the mystery builds up we observe the scene from above their heads. These choices enhance the sense of claustrophobia that is required for a thrilling storytelling. While the  answer to the charade will be revealed by Poirot within an incredibly theatrical mise-en-scène – to remind us of Branagh’s skillful stage expertise.

The transparent flammable plastic made of camphor and nitrocellulose, comes alive, in this extraordinary remake of ‘Murder On The Orient Express,’ and the magic is bound to continue, since the last scene sets up the announced sequel, ‘Death on the Nile.’

Technical: A*

Acting: B+

Story: B

Overall: B++

Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

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Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi, is a film critic, culture and foreign affairs reporter, screenwriter, film-maker and visual artist. She studied in a British school in Milan, graduated in Political Sciences, got her Masters in screenwriting and film production and studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York and Los Angeles. Chiara’s “Material Puns” use wordplay to weld the title of the painting with the materials placed on canvas, through an ironic reinterpretation of Pop-Art, Dadaism and Ready Made. She exhibited her artwork in Milan, Rome, Venice, London, Oxford, Paris and Manhattan. Chiara works as a reporter for online, print, radio and television and also as a film festival PR/publicist. As a bi-lingual journalist (English and Italian), who is also fluent in French and Spanish, she is a member of the Foreign Press Association in New York, the Women Film Critics Circle in New York, the Italian Association of Journalists in Milan and the Federation of Film Critics of Europe and the Mediterranean. Chiara is also a Professor of Phenomenology of Contemporary Arts at IED University in Milan.

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