'Mystery in Venice': Kenneth Branagh navigates between Agatha Christie and Edgar Allan Poe to shape the best film of the trilogy

Hercule Poirot flirts with terror in a new case that, as usual, uses a spectacular cast to dazzle the respectable

REVIEWS 20/09/2023 Victor Lopez G.

It is very likely that thinking about the new youth that the whodunnit subgenre is experiencing will inevitably lead us to the extraordinary 'Daggers in the Back' , with which Rian Johnson gave a facelift to detective stories with impossible murders, lists of suspects Endless investigations full of false clues and unexpected surprises.

 
However, two years before we met Daniel Craig's Benoit Blanc, Kenneth Branagh surprised everyone by revitalizing the murder mystery   with 'Murder on the Orient Express' ; a production that embraced the most classic essence, disguising it as a contemporary blockbuster and that showed its logical evolution with its improbable and equally estimable sequel 'Death on the Nile' .

 
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Now, in the era of franchises, the expression "there are no two without three" has more force than ever, and the British, as a perfect revulsion to a possible - and probable - stagnation, has approached the new case of his Poirot betting on innovation within the formula. The secret ingredient has been none other than adapting Agatha Christie through the prism of Gothic horror ; a slight twist that instantly turns the fantastic 'Mystery in Venice' into the most stimulating and enjoyable installment of the already notable trilogy.

Between Poe and Christie
 
In cinema, as a general rule, there are no coincidences. Therefore, it is not surprising that the young Leopold Ferrier, one of the most interesting characters in 'Mystery in Venice', walks through the, a priori, enchanted building in which the film is set with a book by Edgar Allan Poe under arm. And, ultimately, the feature film seems to drink in equal parts from the creator of the Belgian detective protagonist and the legendary writer of 'The Raven' or 'The Fall of the House of Usher'.

On this occasion, the director has abandoned the comfort zone, refusing to replicate his previous works and injecting a cocktail of curses, vengeful ghosts, mediums and consanguineous traumas into the whodunnit formula ; succeeding in the attempt in general terms but finding itself unable to succumb to the occasional cliché and commonplace seen a thousand times in counterpart films.

One of the main reasons that allows 'Mystery in Venice' to emerge among its small familiarity is a simply impeccable form. To the staging of a Branagh in a state of grace in his management and mastery of the codes of the genre, we must add the brilliant cinematography of Haris Zambarloukos , who does not hesitate to play with scales and angles while evoking classics from the 60s such as 'Suspense', 'The Afterlife' or 'Diabolical Plan'.

 
 
The strength of its images and the magnetism of its atmosphere greatly help to forgive one of the film's great sins, inherited from its direct predecessor: the predictability of its main twist . As happened in 'Death on the Nile', it is not difficult to find out who is hiding behind the mystery referred to in the title; But this is more than compensated for by a spectacular third act in which all the ends are tied up and the how and why are explained in an archetypal—and lucid—montage sequence.

 
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Continuing with the tone of the saga, 'Mystery in Venice' finishes outlining its proposal through a cast of authentic luxury that stands out from the previous ones for the treatment and dynamics between its characters ; Special mention for the duo composed of Michelle Yeoh and Tina Fey, both magnificent, and for Kenneth Branagh's Hercule Poirot, who has an interesting arc despite the almost procedural nature of the narrative.

My first feeling about 'Murder on the Orient Express' was that of wanting to continue exploring the universe of Agatha Christie with the help of a master of ceremonies like Branagh. Six years later, the desire not only remains the same, but has increased thanks to the elegance, the almost anachronism and the cinematographic value of what, without a doubt, is the best length of the triptych . The magic of horror, I guess.

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