Crooked House Review
Crooked House (2017) Film Review, a movie directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner, and starring Glenn Close, Gillian Anderson, Terrence Stamp, Christina Hendricks, Stefani Martini, Max irons and Honor Kneafsey.
Crooked House is an adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel of the same name and said to be one of her favorites. Set in 1950’s England towards the end of the second world war, the story follows a young detective, Charles Hayward (Max Irons) who has been hired by his former lover Sophia de Haviland (Stefani Martini) to investigate the death of her grandfather. Sophia believing her grandfather, the late business tycoon Aristide Leonides, to have been murdered by a member of his enigmatic family.
Through Hayward and his investigation, we are introduced to the several disgruntled generations who live in the crooked house together: The victim’s late wife’s sister (Glenn Close), his beautiful young second wife (Christina Hendricks), his sons (Christian Mckay and Julian Sands) and their wives (Amanda Abbington and Gillian Anderson), as well as Sophia’s younger siblings (Honor Kneafskey and Preston Nyman) and their nanny (Jenny Galloway). With every member of the Leonides family having ample motive, access, and intelligence to pull off the murder; there are plenty of suspects.
The film is delightfully cast, lead spectacularly by Glenn Close. But that is to be expected when you cast a powerhouse like Close. What isn’t to be expected is the performance given by Max Irons. Irons plays Hayward with refreshing nuance. He brings a sensitivity and vulnerability to the character not often displayed by “leading man” types. Especially leading men of the time-period this piece is set. While Hendricks and Anderson offer comedic relief and Martini and relative newcomer, Kneafsey both give solid performances; the remaining cast members are otherwise forgettable or understated compared to Close and Irons.
The pacing of the film is a bit slow in the beginning as we are introduced to each character, or rather suspect, in what seems real time. We are given a grand tour of the estate as Charles explores the impressive home. This, in my opinion, is where the cinematography really shines. It reminded me of how one might stage this were it a play. Sweeping shots of staircases, parlor rooms, hallways and an immaculate courtyard create an immersive stage for the action to play. The house is almost a character in and of itself. Juxtaposed with current music of the time as well as operatic orchestrations that play up the melodramatic theme of the film.
I found the final act of this film to be on the sloppier side of things. In no due part to the actors. I think perhaps the director was attempting to make up lost time spent on character introductions. The result leaving me with a bittersweet taste in my mouth rather than satisfaction in the final act and reveal of the killer. I’m unsure if it was the film’s pacing or a flaw in Christie’s writing, but I felt the killer lacked genuine motive. Or perhaps that’s why they were such a great villain? A true sociopath. Killing apathetically without the need for any concrete incentive. Regardless, in true Christie fashion; the killer is not whom the audience would suspect.
Overall, Crooked House is an entertaining crime drama well worth the watch. What makes Crooked House so thrilling is how enjoyable it is for audience members. The film leaves the audience feeling as if they are solving the crime right alongside our cast. Filled with plenty suspense, mystery, darkness, elegance, and jump scares to keep you guessing; fans of both murder mystery and Agatha Christie will find a lot to love about this twisted tale.
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