Quick-Thoughts: Death on the Nile (1978)

The first half of John Guillermin’s theatrical adaptation of Death on the Nile is impressively boring, and while the second half does begin to kick off things with a bit more momentum, it was ultimately tarnished for me because of how he executes the murder mystery’s procedural. Not only does the elongated runtime make every significant event easy to see through, but the film insistently and constantly tries to sway you away from certain deductions, and it’s so obviously done that it completely deflates the intrigue of the mystery when knowing confidently who the killer is.

The cast, especially Mia Farrow and even Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot — although Albert Finney set the bar so high in Sidney Lumet’s Murder on the Orient Express (1973) that it’s almost impossible not to yearn a return to form from him — seem to be trying their best to engage the audience at least. This time, unlike Lumet’s though, the coincidence of the suspects’ backgrounds being so closely related end up being simply a byproduct of social hierarchy f**king over people, and I can kind of appreciate that commentary, howbeit it’s not justifiable enough to make the coincidences anything but still pretty questionable. I did, however, like the tragedy aspect of the climax, but again, can’t say any of it was enough to please this denigrator with the overall experience. 

Verdict: C-

“Death on the Nile” is now available to stream on The Criterion Channel.

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