DEATH ON THE NILE – Review by Susan Granger

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Set in 1937, a luxurious honeymoon riverboat cruise ends in murder in Kenneth Branagh’s new version of Death on the Nile, a follow-up to his “Murder on the Orient Express” (2017).

Playing Agatha Christie’s mustachioed Belgian detective, Branagh’s wryly ostentatious Hercule Poirot is a last-minute addition, along with his friend Bouc (Tom Bateman), to the lavish honeymoon party of glamorous heiress Linnet Ridgeway Doyle (Gal Gadot) and her dashing new husband, Simon Doyle (Armie Hammer).

Other cruise passengers – and, of course, suspects – include Linnet’s French maid Louise (Rose Leslie), Linnet’s lawyer/cousin Andrew Katchadourian (Ali Fazel), and her eccentric godmother Marie Van Schuyler (Jennifer Saunders) with her nurse/companion Bowers (Dawn French).

Plus there’s elderly painter Euphemia Boue (Annette Bening), aristocratic Dr. Linus Windlesham (Russell Brand), guitar-playing nightclub singer Salome Otterbourne (Sophie Okonedo) and her clever niece/manager Rosalie (Letitia Wright).

Unexpectedly joining them on the S.S. Karnak paddleboat steamer is Simon’s resentful ex, Jacqueline de Bellefort (Emma Mackey) , toting an ornate .22 caliber pistol in her purse, as they glide past the ancient pyramids of Giza and the colossal Pharaoh Ramses II statues at Abu Simbel.

Working with screenwriter Michael Green, actor/director Branagh condenses so much that he never fully explores the subtle nuances of his rich cast of characters in what seems like a foregone conclusion to the whodunit, particularly when compared with screenwriter Anthony Shaffer’s 1978 version in which Peter Ustinov, Bette Davis and Maggie Smith exchanged barbs.

FYI: Agatha Christie’s literary sleuth, Hercule Poirot, has been played most memorably by Peter Ustinov (“Death on the Nile”) and Albert Finney (“Murder on the Orient Express”) – also by David Suchet (Agatha Christie’s Poirot), Tony Randall (The Alphabet Murders), Alfred Molina (Murder on the Orient Express), Hugh Laurie (Spice World), and Austin Trevor (Lord Edgeware Dies).

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, Death on the Nile is a caricatured, frenzied 5, streaming on Hulu, HBO Max and Disney+.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.