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July 6, 2018

Crooked House (2017) --- “Curious Thing, Rooms. They Can Tell You Quite A Lot About The People Who Live In Them.”- Agatha Christie

Plot Summary
In this classic Agatha Christie detective story, former diplomat Charles Hayward has returned from Cairo to London to become a private detective. When Aristide Leonides, a wealthy and ruthless tycoon, is poisoned in his own bed, Detective Hayward is invited to solve the crime. As the investigation deepens he must confront the shocking realization that one of the key suspects is Aristede's beautiful granddaughter, his employer and former lover; and must keep a clear head to navigate the sultry Sophia and the rest of her hostile family. (1)

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Hello, Movie Buffs! 
     I must first point out that I have not had the opportunity to read the book on which the film is based on, so this review contains no comparison between the two different formats. More than 40 years after her death, Agatha Christie’s work still lives with the BBC regularly producing miniseries based on her work. And now within the same year we, as moviegoers, get to see not one but two of her famous books come to life on screen. The first is Kenneth Branagh's recent interpretation of Murder on the Orient Express (2017), while the second is based on the book Christie considers to be her best and favorite work, Crooked House. This review is based on later of the two.

     Directed by French-born Gilles Paquet-Brenner's (Walled In; Dark Places), Crooked House (2017) is an entertainingly old-fashioned and absorbing mystery film with a domineering story, stellar cast, beautiful set designs, and an ever-growing ominous atmosphere. A spy-turned- private detective is lured by his former lover to catch her grandfather's murderer before Scotland Yard can expose unsettling and dark family secrets. The film is set in the mid-to-late 50’s of typical British elite and we see how the different caste systems have their own set of rules and secrets to abide by. The first half of the film is a bit slow moving as we are being introduced to the residents of the house, which proves to be far ‘crooked’ than expected. Once all the clues start piecing themselves together, it starts to become clear who the murderer is and their motives. Let’s just say that they are among those you would least expect. The cinematography (Sebastian WinterøSia: Chandelier) was colorful and foreboding, while the music score (Hugo De ClaireCapsule) could have been a bit better – especially since the score for Orient Express was so much better.
     This ensemble cast was pretty great for this type of foreboding mystery film. Max Irons (Dorian Gray; The Host) is convincing as the enigmatic and charismatic detective, Charles. Stefanie Martini (Doctor Thorne) is possibly the saner member of her family, Sofia, and her chemistry with Irons is also great to see. Honor Kneafsey (Miss You Already) is clever as the detective prodigy Josephine in the family but even she proves to have some skeletons in the closet. Glenn Close (The Girl with All the Gifts), Gillian Anderson (The X-Files; Bleak House), Christina Hendricks (Mad Men; Ginger & Rose), Amanda Abbington (Sherlock, TV), Christian McKay (Rush; Florence Foster Jenkins),and Julian Sands (The Medallion) stand out particularly in usually clichéd roles with a new twist.

     Overall, Crooked House (2017) is an entertainingly old-fashioned and absorbing mystery film ith a domineering story, stellar cast, beautiful set designs, and an ever-growing ominous atmosphere. According to people who have read the book, there are a few flaws in the film. But coming from someone who has not read the book, I can say that the film was pretty good. I did not feel like I had to skip through certain scenes as it was entertaining from beginning to end. Although I would not say that this is Agatha Christie’s best work because I still prefer Murder on the Orient Express more, but I can see why this is her favorite work. I highly recommend this film to anyone who is a fan of Agatha Christie’s work or even if you enjoyed Murder on the Orient Express.

"The murderer is never the one you initially suspect." 
- Josephine

Final Vote
Worth Seeing:  7.8 of 10 stars
Worth Buying:  7.8 of 10 stars

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Casino Murder Case (1935)
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Death of Broadcasting House (1934)
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Girl on the Train (2016)
House of the Arrow, The (1953)
List of Adrian Messenger (1963)
Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
Mirror Crack'd (1980)
Spider Woman, The (1943)

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