A Haunting in Venice

Kenneth Branagh in a scene from A Haunting in Venice. From the official trailer
Kenneth Branagh in a scene from A Haunting in Venice. From the official trailer
Agatha Christie’s novel Hallowe’en Party, published in 1969, inspired A Haunting in Venice. This film had it all for Christie fans. The famed Belgian detective Hercule Poirot partners with his novelist friend Ariadne Oliver. We attend an intense seance in a spooky, scenic setting. On a dark rainy night, we enter a haunted old building with falling chandeliers, secret passages, deadly games, and intrigue.

Hallowe’en Party

Christie fans may recall the original story set in the fictional town of Woodleigh Common, England, during a party hosted by Ariadne Oliver, a detective novelist. That night, a young girl named Joyce Reynolds is found drowned in the bathtub, and murder is suspected. Ariadne Oliver and Hercule Poirot investigate the crime involving several suspects with motives, including the victim’s mother.

Queen of Crime

For those new to Agatha Christie’s work, she is known as the Queen of Crime and is considered one of the most successful and widely read authors of all time. She wrote over 80 novels and short story collections, with around 2 billion copies sold worldwide.
Statue of Hercule Poirot à Ellezelles, Belgique. Public Domain

Statue of Hercule Poirot à Ellezelles, Belgique. Public Domain

Eccentric Detectives

Christie’s novels and stories are typically murder mysteries with sophisticated, eccentric detectives like Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple. She creates intricate plots, clever twists, strident dialogue, and intricate characterizations. Christie’s works cover a range of themes and settings, from classic whodunits set in English country villages to more exotic locations like Egypt and the Middle East. Her novel The Murder of Roger Akroyd, one of my favorites, is considered one of the greatest murder mysteries ever written.

Venice

The story begins with crime novelist Ariadne Oliver (Tina Fey) convincing an august, bespoke Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) to accompany her. She plans to attend a Halloween Night séance at a Venice palazzo owned by retired opera diva Rowena Drake (Kelly Reilly). The medium, Joyce Reynolds (Michelle Yeoh), is to communicate with Alicia Drake (Rowan Robinson), daughter of Rowena Drake, who died under mysterious circumstances.
Venice Italy. From the official trailer of A Haunting in Venice

Venice Italy. From the official trailer of A Haunting in Venice

Halloween Story

From here, the most delightfully macabre Halloween story unfolds. The crime setting is deliciously dark, beautifully filmed, and a testament to Poirot’s famed intuitions borne of Christie’s imagination. There was the usual but cherished wrap-up with confrontations, desperation, surprises, and some sweet sentiment. It’s altogether well-crafted fun!

Cast

Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot Kelly Reilly as Rowena Drake Tina Fey as Ariadne Oliver Rowan Robinson as Alicia Drake Michelle Yeoh as Joyce Reynolds Jamie Dorman as Leslie Ferrier Jude Hill as Leopold, Ferrier’s son Camille Cottin as Olga Seminoff Kyle Allen as Maxime Gerard Emma Laird as Desdemona Holland Ali Khan as Nicholas Holland Riccardo Scamarcio as Vitale Portfoglio Amir El-Masry as Alessandro Longo

A Haunting in Venice

Release date: September 15, 2023 Director: Kenneth Branagh Producer: Judy Hofflund, Simon Kinberg, Kenneth Branagh, Ridley Scott, Mark Gordon (producer), Louise Killin, James Prichard Writer: Michael Green (writer) Music: Hildur Guðnadóttir Studio: The Mark Gordon Company, Genre Films, TSG Entertainment, Agatha Christie Limited Budget: $60 M Film Series: Hercule Poirot Film Series Readers may also enjoy our reviews of Bullet TrainWithin Earshot: Anthems for the In-Between, Flight by MastervoicesLove by Mastervoices, and Faith by MasterVoices.

A Haunting in Venice

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