Poirot: The Movie Collection Set 5

| August 16, 2010

The great mystery novelist Agatha Christie’s work has been translated on film in many different ways; movies, tv miniseries and specials galore. Perhaps one of the most successful of these translations is the PBS Mystery! Series version of the Inspector Poirot stories. David Suchet’s Poirot, while perhaps not quite the whimsical-yet-cunning Belgian Christie wrote so beautifully, is a fascinating performance to behold. Suchet is wonderful, with an easy balance of warmth, intellect and charm. He carries each story, watchable and always present. It is easy to believe that his Inspector Poirot can come to discover the murderer, for he discovers clues along with the audience, while also leading one to believe he knows things the audience does not- but will reveal in time.
Each “episode” is marked with Christie’s signature dark twists: Murder on the Orient Express, the weakest of the three episodes in this collection- not in terms of filmmaking but rather because of an unsatisfactory conclusion to the story- guest stars Barbara Hershey (“Hannah and Her Sisters”) and Toby Jones (“W”). It barrels along to the finish, paced finely and with very good performances from the ensemble- the best overall in performance quality.
“Third Girl” brings the delightful guest appearance of Zoe Wanamaker (the Harry Potter film series) as a mystery novelist and friend of the Inspector. Wanamaker is fantastic, keeping pace with Suchet and bringing a lively and vivid character to life. Christie had fascinations with homicide, and how easily it could be mistaken for suicide, and this rather disturbing theme plays heavily in this particular episode.
“Appointment With Death”, the third episode and the weakest in terms of pacing and storytelling, guest stars a woefully underused Tim Curry (“Clue”, one of the funniest movies ever made). It also features Christian McKay (“Me and Orson Welles”) in a delightful turn as a man with a hidden identity. Also featured is the wonderful Paul Freeman (“Hot Fuzz”) as an undercover policeman. “Death” is sadly mistold, wrapping itself in too many unnecessary sequences. As far as plot goes, it is one of Christie’s more twisted and interesting ones- and very difficult to guess whodunnit. Indeed, the final sequence in which the murderers are revealed is deeply fascinating and unpredictable. Suchet is the pivot point around which the rest of the movie turns, and whenever he is on screen, the scene is well-paced and finely acted. It is extremely difficult to take a beloved literary character and make him or her your own, but Suchet masters Poirot, and in turn, masters each mystery. He is truly a great actor to watch work.
There is a great deal of technique employed but the work he does as an actor is never too obvious or the focus of what’s happening, instead, he is subtly and deftly creating a character that deeply compelling to watch. It is Suchet, and in turn, Inspector Poirot, that makes these stories worth viewing, which is probably exactly as Agatha Christie would have wanted.
This series is available from Acorn Media.

About the Author:

Heather Trow is a nursing assistant and part-time writer. When she is not writing, she is listening to the popular podcast "NEVER NOT FUNNY". Actually, at any given time, most likely, she is listening to the podcast. It's pretty much all she does besides work. It is her favorite thing.
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