Poirot, Appointment with Death (2008)

The Gathering

Christie invented so much, and much of that has found its way into the film vocabulary. As with Conan Doyle, one can hardly work on her material without taking chances. Part of the risk is readers who will be upset with the translation to film. But others, like myself, may be annoyed not by details of the story, but overarching, necessary structural issues.

That’s because it is just those structural issues that helped build film, build the way we dream visually. One of her devices is the Poirot gathering. By simple fiat in every story, Poirot is able to get everyone involved in the same space while he recounts how things transpired and why.

The device is very particular, because these people are both characters in the story, and audience (shared with us), as things are explained. Almost everyone in the room has some secret that is exposed to the others with some surprise. This is one effect I call folding, this notion of participants becoming audience. So when I judge these adaptations of Poirot, I have to start with that final sequence and judge whether it works.

I am a very hard judge, and have really been critical of many of the Suchet productions. But this one works, because that final sequence is well oiled, full of the dynamics that reinvent everything we have seen. That is thin mustard because we have only been watching from afar, but it is life-altering stuff for our surrogate audience,

All else is good enough, and occasionally is better than we need to keep going until we reach the apogee.

Posted in 2015

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


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