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A titokzatos stylesi eset (2022)

A titokzatos stylesi eset (2022)

The Big Reveal

This almost made it to my list of fours, just based on its ambition. But I am retiring to comments after an absence, and don’t want to be rash.

It seems unlikely that you will see this, so I will uncharacteristically describe it. The dialogue (and for me, the subtitles) are adapted from Agatha Christie’s first novel, the one that introduces Poirot (and Hastings). ‘The Mysterious Affair at Styles.’ There is a complex murder and a very limited number of suspects.

Even in this first novel, we have what would become a trademark ending; Poirot gathers all the suspects and reports what he has worked out. In the process, he will reveal that some of the suspects have deceived and for that brief moment we — who have witnessed much — think aha, he/she is the culprit. Then Poirot will pivot, sometimes more than once before revealing the actual complex sequence of events and therefore the murder.

We read these books because they set up this satisfying ending.

What this filmmaker has done is start the film at the start of this last scene. The only speaker is the voice-over narrator, Poirot. The entire film is the murder’s reveal. Had it been in English, I would have listened to this by itself, entranced. Christie is a master, even then.

What we see is a bunch of very busy black and white clips, sometimes drawn on, often simultaneous with others. This is something between Greenaway’s care and Marker’s busy rhythms. The footage is from what seems hundreds of old silent films where the image is very slightly relevant to the story. Very slightly and very busy.

There seems to have been some composition: movement concatenates, elements are cropped. Blacks are normalised. The effect takes some serious work on the part of the viewer, much more work if you have to read the subtitles. But there is a magic to this. The audience that will have the patience and skill is probably very small, but for us this seems genius.

Posted in 2024

Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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