The meta twists and turns of Agatha Christie take-off See How They Run are stylishly impressive if a little disposable
“How would Agatha Christie like it if someone took one of her stories and twisted and corrupted it just for the hell of it?”
Directed by Tom George and written by Mark Chappell, meta-mystery See How They Run felt kinda tailor-made to hit my interests – an all-star, theatre-bod-heavy ensemble featuring Ruth Wilson and a twisting narrative set in London’s theatreland and riffing heavily on The Mousetrap. So I was a bit sad that it all felt a bit much ado about nothing for me, a little too clever-clever rather than truly captivating.
It is 1953 and US producer Leo Köpernick is determined to capitalise on the West End show’s success and make a film adaptation of The Mousetrap but when he is found murdered at a party and the cast and crew all fall under suspicion, a case possibly more complex than even Christie could have conceived emerges. Except she was the queen of murder mysteries and so you know she would have done it better.
Saoirse Ronan and Sam Rockwell are both great as the investigating police bods. His Marlowe-esque Inspector Stoppard in stark contrast to her perky Constable Stalker and the Wes Anderson-like energy that they end up projecting is a fascinating, if unexpected, addition to the film. And I have no objection to films that prove as ephemeral as candy floss as their pleasures evaporate as soon as the film has finished.
So many faces in the ensemble mean that there’s plenty of those pleasures. Wilson’s proficient theatre manager, David Oyelowo’s prissy writer, Reece Shearsmith’s long-suffering producer, Angus Wright, Lucian Msamati, Sian Clifford too. And the film does look beautifully stylish from top to bottom, it’s just that the mystery is never anywhere near as engrossing as that which it is trying to spoof. Then again, not being as good as Agatha Christie is a fate suffered by the vast majority of mystery writers. Ultimately, the type of film that’s a bit of diverting fun to watch on Boxing Day.