Movies

Movie Review: Death on the Nile

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If you enjoyed “Murder on the Orient Express” and Agatha Christie’s novels, you’ll be swept away by the grandeur and intrigue of “Death on the Nile.”  

Kenneth Branagh (“Thor”) returns as legendary detective Hercule Poirot, now on a vacation in exotic Egypt.  Hercule runs into his friend from ‘Orient Express,’ Bouc (Tom Bateman) and his painter, meddlesome mother Euphemia (Annette Benning), who are there to attend a wedding party of an acquaintance at a palatial resort.  Bouc invites Hercule to the resort, where he meets the newlyweds and their party.  

The comely newlyweds are wealthy heiress Linette Ridgeway (Gal Gadot, “Wonder Woman”) and common man Simon Doyle (Armie Hammer, “The Man from U.N.C..L.E,” “The Social Network“).  This is not the first time Hercule meets them, however.  Just six weeks ago, he attended a jazz performance at a fancy club in London where he first spotted another woman dancing sultrily with Simon.  That woman was not Linette; it’s Jacqueline De Bellefort (Emma Mackey), a good friend of Linnette, and Simon’s fiancee.  

Linette made a goddess-like entrance and caught up with Jacqueline.  A besotted Jacqueline told Linnette that she was engaged to Simon and needed help on the financial front.  Jacqueline asked Linnette to give Simon an office job.  Upon being introduced to Simon, Linnette was so taken by him and said yes.  Their eyes met, they danced away and couldn’t part ever since, leaving Jacqueline heartbroken and seethed with envy.  

Stabbed with the pain of betrayal, Jacqueline stalks the couple at the resort and later shows up on the river cruise.  When the bride ends up dead, it’s not as straightforward as the jilted Jacqueline being the prime suspect going for revenge, due to a circumstance that leaves it impossible for her to do the deed.  

That leaves the rest of the guests – in addition to the above – Louise Bourget (Rose Leslie), Linette’s loyal maid; Salome Otterbourne (Sophie Okonedo), the same jazz singer who performed at the London club; Rosalie Otterbourne (Letitia Wright, “Black Panther,” “Avengers: Endgame”), Salome’s niece and savvy business manager, as well as Lynette’s friend from boarding school and Bouc’s amore; Andrew Katchadourian (Ali Fazal), Linnette’s distant cousin and business lawyer who may or may not have shady dealings; Lord Windlesham (Russell Brand), a patrician physician and forlorn former fiance of Linnette; Marie Van Schuyle (Jennifer Saunders), Linnette’s godmother with a distaste for materialism and capitalism; and Bowers, Marie’s longtime nurse (Dawn French).

Love runs deep.  So does possessiveness and obsession. The movie’s running theme is love, various shades of love, and broaches on greed, class and racism.  We also get to know Hercule on a deeper level, his war past and long-buried sorrow.  The tragedy doesn’t end with a single murder.  While Hercule’s connecting the dots and reveal seem crammed in the penultimate and I had a sense of the whodunit prior, there are unexpectedly shocking scenes.  One twist turns into another, secrets are forced open, relationships are torn, lives are changed forever. 

If you love traveling the world, the spectacular scenery of the ‘Nile’ is undeniable.  The great pyramids and Rameses, riverside historical resort bordering the desert, luxury paddleboat steamer cruising down the Nile are awash in rosy-golden glow of daylight and sunset hues and moored under royal blue starry nights, with guests dressed in finery dance, dine on lobsters and drink champagne.  

If you love mysteries, you’ll be in for an intriguing treat, keenly observing scenes, guessing on motives and putting together clues. There is no perfect crime.  

Murder mystery meets world travel and old glamor on “Death on the Nile.” 

Copyright (c) 2022. Nathalia Aryani

Nathalia Aryani is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic (rottentomatoes.com/critic/nathalia-aryani). She has a movie blog, The MovieMaven (sdmoviemaven.blogspot.com). Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at indotransserv@gmail.com.

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