Film Review: Crooked House (2017)

“The murderer is never the one you initially suspect”

A real treat here for fans of Agatha Christie as Crooked House is one of the few novels of hers that has yet to be adapted for the screen. With a screenplay by Julian Fellowes, Tim Rose Price and Gilles Paquet-Brenner, the latter of whom also directs, a curious release strategy sees it materialise on Channel 5 in the UK despite it being blessed with the kind of castings and high production values that you’d’ve thought would be destined for the cinema.

The story begins as so many of them do, with a murder. This time it is wealthy 80-some tycoon Aristide Leonides who kicks the bucket and the finger of suspicion doesn’t know where to point as it could any one of the disillusioned family members who also lived in the sumptuous family pile. His grand-daughter secures the services of a private investigator to look into the case discreetly and thus the mystery begins.

Is it Glenn Close’s mole-murdering Lady Edith, the sister of Leonides first wife? Christina Hendricks’ much younger second wife Brenda who stands to inherit everything? His hapless elder son or his hapless younger son or maybe one of their wives, a pair of crackingly vibrant performances from Gillian Anderson and Amanda Abbington respectively. And what secrets do Jenny Galloway’s nanny or Honor Kneafley’s 12 year old Josephine have up their sleeve?

Pleasingly, Max Irons’ investigator isn’t a Poirot or Marple-like savant and so the focus is allowed to rest on the unfurling of characters with murky motivations and a real sense of unease that percolates through the whole story. Sebastian Winterø’s cinematography plays into this with constantly interesting angles and Simon Bowles’ luscious production design is extraordinarily detailed in the way different rooms reflect their inhabitants.

Last but by no means least, there’s no denying the thrill that comes from a genuine shock of an ending that is brilliantly brutal, both in its reveal and its finality. Its darkness is possibly one of the reasons Crooked House hasn’t been filmed before but I love the fact that it is also one of Christie’s two favourites of her novels (the other being Ordeal By Innocence which was scheduled to be this year’s BBC/Sarah Phelps adaptation but which remains in limbo due to allegations made against one of its cast members).

 
 

 

 

 

 

22nd Screen Actors Guild Awards nominees

Film
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Bryan Cranston – Trumbo as Dalton Trumbo
Johnny Depp – Black Mass as James “Whitey” Bulger
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant as Hugh Glass
Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs as Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl as Lili Elbe / Einar Wegener

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Cate Blanchett – Carol as Carol Aird
Brie Larson – Room as Joy “Ma” Newsome
Helen Mirren – Woman in Gold as Maria Altmann
Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn as Eilis Lacey
Sarah Silverman – I Smile Back as Elaine “Laney” Brooks Continue reading “22nd Screen Actors Guild Awards nominees”

19th Screen Actors Guild Awards nominees

Film
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook as Patrizio “Pat” Solitano, Jr.
Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln as Abraham Lincoln
John Hawkes – The Sessions as Mark O’Brien
Hugh Jackman – Les Misérables as Jean Valjean
Denzel Washington – Flight as William “Whip” Whitaker, Sr.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty as Maya
Marion Cotillard – Rust and Bone as Stéphanie
Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook as Tiffany Maxwell
Helen Mirren – Hitchcock as Alma Reville
Naomi Watts – The Impossible as Maria Bennett Continue reading “19th Screen Actors Guild Awards nominees”

Review: Sondheim’s Company in the cinema

“When a person’s personality is personable, he should not sit like a lump”

With the amount of theatre I see, I rarely go to the cinema these days – my Cineworld card collected dust for a quite a few months before I admitted defeat and cancelled it – so when I received an invitation to a press screening of a film, I was amused and intrigued by the novelty of the idea. Of course, it wasn’t that much of a stretch in the end because the film was a recording of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Company from last year’s Lincoln Centre (Center?) production in New York featuring Neil Patrick Harris and a cast of luminaries including Patti LuPone (who inspired possibly the greatest YouTube video ever), Martha Plimpton (her from the Goonies all grown up) and Anika Noni Rose (the one from Dreamgirls who wasn’t Beyoncé or who won an Oscar).

I have to admit I was initially a little wary about going to see this: my relationship with Sondheim took a bit of a battering in the deluge of productions that celebrated his anniversary year and it was only really with the utterly fabulous Sheffield Crucible production of Company at the end of last year that the pieces all finally clicked together for me and I could hand on heart for the first time say that I absolutely loved a Sondheim show. But I have gotten much better at managing expectations for shows, especially in relation to other productions of the same, and this was an opportunity to see a whole bunch of performers, whom I like but may never get to see, live on a big screen. And you’ll get the chance when the show screens for one night only on Thursday 15th March at 7pm – the list of cinemas is available here. Continue reading “Review: Sondheim’s Company in the cinema”