Movie Review: Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

By: Joseph Clardy

 

 

Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s iconic mystery novel Murder on the Orient Express hit the big screen on Nov. 10, and this reviewer found it to be a phenomenal cinematic experience that stayed loyal to its source material. The film had high expectations to live up to, given its star-studded cast (including four Academy Award Nominees and two Academy Award Winners). Some worried that packing the cast with big names would either distract from the story or waste an excellent performer on a minor part, but those fears were unfounded. All cast members performed their roles spectacularly, from Johnny Depp’s bitter Edward Ratchett to Kenneth Branagh’s stunning Hercule Poirot.

 

The most astounding aspect of the film, to me, was just how faithful it was to the original novel. Of course, small aspects were changed and minor scenes were added to aid the story’s transition to a visual medium, but the majority of the film seemed to flow directly from the book. The excellent cinematography kept the film interesting, despite the fact that most of the story takes place on a motionless train stuck in a snow drift.

 

However, nothing in this world is perfect. The one issue I had with the film was the casting choice for the character Mary Debenham, a governess that is among the passengers on the Orient Express. Daisy Ridley (of Star Wars: The Force Awakens fame) was cast for the role of Miss Debenham. However, Debenham has supposedly been a governess for many years, long enough for some of her students to have grown into adults. This would make the character a tad older than the actress performing the part. While Ridley’s performance was superb, the clear age difference between character and actress was awkward at times.

Overall, Murder on the Orient Express (2017) succeeded in living up to the hype it had built up, and managed to stay true to the book it was based on in the process, which is a rare thing to see nowadays. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good mystery every now and then!