Review of 'A Haunting in Venice'

a_haunting_in_venice.jpg I must have blinked and missed this in the cinema so I have watched it on Disney+…

The famous detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) has put aside detective work, living a quiet life of solitude in Venice. Fate will not leave him alone as old friend and author Ariadne Oliver (Tina Fey) convinces him that she has found a medium she believes to be the “real deal”. Unconvinced Poirot reluctantly agrees to attending a séance on Halloween at a palazzo belonging to former opera star Rowena Drake (Kelly Reilly). Medium Joyce Reynolds (Michelle Yeoh) gives an impressive performance channelling the spirit of Drake's daughter who died mysteriously a year earlier. Poirot quickly debunks much of the performance but later is attacked then the medium meets her maker…

Another Kenneth Branagh adaptation of an Agatha Crystie's Hercule Poirot story, in this case “Hallowe'en Party”, shows the detective questioning his own senses as he hears voices and sees things that simply cannot be. There is an obvious explanation for all of this, isn't there? Though the story begins a bit differently it soon falls back on form: Group of people get together, someone gets killed, they are all confined while Poirot finds the killer. As always, the ending is a bit of a surprise that relies perhaps a bit more than what the viewer sees on the screen but here it is all about the journey than the conclusion with it's quirky characters and unusual goings-on. The setting, being Venice, is quite evocative anyway with most of the action taking place in an old orphanage on a canal a stone's throw from St. Mark's Square.

Branagh is again slightly unconvincing as Poirot in this latest outing with his not-quite-right accent and slightly-too-dim portrayal of the great detective. It is always a joy to see Yeoh on the screen as she is quite compelling to watch, this time as a mysterious psychic. The supporting cast all have a relatively easy go at it with their stereotypical characters.

Another interesting attempt at bringing Christie to a modern audience with some pretty good performances but, let's face it, this is all about the drama and action (albeit brief and shocking), which this film has in spades. I just can't buy Branagh as Poirot…

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2023-11-27

Directed by: Kenneth Branagh

Studio: 20th Century Studios

Year: 2023

Length: 103 minutes

Genre: Melodrama

Other reviewed films by Kenneth Branagh: