“How do you know?”
Working my way through the works of Ruth Wilson, I came across an episode of Marple in which she appeared, but the most striking thing about was the name of the director – Nicolas Winding Refn. Yes, the man better known for films such as Drive, Pusher and Only God Forgives once directed an episode of Marple for ITV back in 2008 when Geraldine McEwan was playing the role of the intrepid sleuth, a choice he now admits was made entirely because he was broke and one which was full of frustrations for him. And as you can see for yourselves on the YouTube clip below, it isn’t really the finest of works.
For those familiar with the novel, this adaptation takes huge liberties with the story as to be almost unrecognisable from the source. And sadly, it never feels like any of the changes were worthwhile, strictly necessary or indeed effective. In this version of Nemesis, Marple is still invited to solve a murder by an old colleague John Rafiel by taking part of a Daffodil Tour Company mystery tour with a carefully selected group of people who, as always, are more connected that first impressions reveal.
But it is beyond ridiculous in the end, outlandish characters and screeching caricatures populate the screen but with a deadly earnest which takes itself far too seriously to even be a guilty pleasure. And the wholesale nature of the changes alter the balance of the story so that much of Christie’s subtleties and intentions are lost. Not even a predictably good cast – Anne Reid and Amanda Burton are both wasted as a pair of nuns, Richard E Grant gets nothing to do but comment on the action as Marple’s nephew and Dan Stevens gets to play a newly Germanified character who makes little impact.
There’s not even much of a compensatory pleasure from Ruth Wilson-watching as her role as the tour guide does not require her to do much at all. The whole episode is available to watch below, but I really wouldn’t bother. Put Drive on instead.