Crooked House is a crime film adaptation of the famous novel of same name by Agatha Christie, one of her favorite novels. The film has so far been released only in Italy, exactly on November two, one week before the world release of “Murder on the Orient Express”. I say one thing right away before starting the review, I didn’t read this book. OI’ve read so many books by Christie, but so many, but I miss that, it’s one of the few. I will remedy this.
The plot is simple:
Aristides Leonides, a great Greek entrepreneur who built his fortune in England, died. The nephew Sofia, who found him dead, decided to turn to a private investigator of his old knowledge: Charles Hayward. Charles went to this house where the whole family of Aristides lived: his second wife, his two children with their wives, three grandchildren, his sister-in-law, his first wife’s sister, and the tutor. They are a strange family, and all of them can be the murderer, and it is Charles’s turn to unveil this mysterious mystery.
Well, as you know, I always start talking about the screenplay, which is the thing I know I definitely judge better because I’m more prepared. But this time, I want to make a small preamble. One of the things that is always told to young writers who are trying to write the first novel and who have difficulty in finding an original idea is this:”It should not be original what it says, but how. So it’s not important a story, but how you tell it. This sentence fully represents the situation in which you find yourself with this film. You have to divide the story and the screenplay, that is, what and how. I liked the story, the screenplay not particularly. The great flaw of this film is that it is too short. Therefore, the closer you get to the end, the more things are said badly and hastily to bring back in an hour and a half a story that certainly needs twenty/thirty minutes more. And I am very sorry, because the first hour is really very nice. You are immersed immediately in the atmosphere of an English crim story, getting acquainted with our dear young investigator. We are presented with the family, one at a time and we immediately notice how strange they are: they are all selfish, closed in their bubble, none of them seem to be sorry for the departure of Aristides, indeed, for them it seems that nothing happened. Finally, slowly, a profile of the victim is built, we understand what type of person it is. Everything then ends up in a dinner where we have the whole family at the table, where they quarrel, blame each other, and everything creates a very comical situation. In this climate, we are given a lot of clues, but it is not possible to understand who the guilty is because everyone can be. For this reason, when the truth is revealed, one remains surprised, as when you read any Christie book. What doesn’t work is how it is revealed: hurriedly, not even deductively – practically reading a confession- and almost thrown in the wind, as if they had been spoiled with the film (scriptwriters). I liked the insertion of the couple Charles-Sofia who had lived a sort of history in the past, which is told to us by flashback, but then it is literally abandoned and closed with two jokes. Pity. Finally, I didn’t like the final, too little yellow and too much action film. This is also a great pity.
The direction is good, but it didn’t dared. In the sense that perhaps everything remained a little too compounded even at the time of the discovery of the murderer. I understand the desire to create a very British work of art from the 1950s, but also a moment of truthfulness. I challenge myself to remain so composed.
Instead, I really liked the whole of the more technical part. Beautiful cinematography, with great beautiful colors; beautiful costumes; beautiful scenery, which is mostly the house of the Leonides, but it is really beautiful, well-furnished, exactly a Victorian style house. It was also very nice to see how each wing of the house was arranged differently, respecting exactly the personality of the people who live there. Nice the sound, I found the music very right and never too much thrust, but that the sound editing was exaggerated in my opinion. Another flaw is that the only visual/special effect they have used is a bit bad.
As far as the actors are concerned, I have to say that I found them all good, but none really exceptional. Maybe only Glen Close proved to be beyond the barrel, but in general I found a lot of compliance, which is a very good thing.
So, in summing up, do I recommend it? Sincerely yes, but it depends. If you’re a Christie fan like me and if you want to keep at bay the great expectation that awaits us for “Murder on the Orient Express” go, it’s not a waste of time.
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