Appears within a very short time THE CROOKED HOUSE the second modern remake of an Agatha Christie novel in cinemas. According to her own statements, this was the British author’s favorite work. We will reveal in our review whether the screen adaptation can do justice to this.
The Plot Summary
Former diplomat Charles Hayward (Max Irons) returns from Cairo to London, where he begins a career as a private detective. When Aristide Leonides, a rich and unscrupulous tycoon, is found poisoned in his bed, Detective Hayward is invited to the family home to investigate the case. As the investigation progresses, he has to face the shocking realization that one of the main suspects is Aristide’s beautiful granddaughter, his client and former lover, Sophia (Stefanie Martini). Hayward had a passionate affair with her in Cairo before she disappeared one day without saying a word. He now has to overcome his emotions and keep a clear head in order to get the temperamental Sophia and the rest of her hostile family under control so that the crime is solved.
Movie explanation of the ending
Long before planning began for Kenneth Branagh’s lavishly budgeted 70-millimeter chamber drama “Murder on the Orient Express,” French director Gilles Paquet-Brenner set out (“Dark Places: Dangerous Memory”) to the adaptation of the much less well-known novel “The Crooked House”, which was even more appreciated by the author herself. The English title “crooked house” not only alludes to the intricately constructed shape of the house in which the criminal case takes place, but above all to the word “crook” – in English: crook”. As in the “Orient Express”, this is also a murder hunt based on the classic whodunit principle. The focus is on the residents of the eponymous “crooked house” Three Gables, which protagonist Charles Hayward gradually approaches. One interrogation after another slowly brings him closer to the customs of the house, but also to the quirks of the residents who live there; and there are so many of them that just the collection of eccentric characters can undermine the credibility of the story. But that’s exactly what “The Crooked House” is for those who know the novel – the authors Julian Fellowes (“Downton Abbey”) and Tim Rose Price (“Badminton”) hardly deviate from the original – which makes it so exciting.
Charles (Max Irons) feels for every resident Three Gables on the tooth…
Due to the classic, old-fashioned and absolutely straightforward narrative, the film seems like it has fallen out of time. The backdrop of the Three Gables (it was shot in Wrotham Park, Hertfordshire, among other places, in the same setting where the film “Gosford Park” was made), where a large part of the action takes place, is packed to the rafters with luxurious knick-knacks. The living rooms in particular are adapted to the residents living in them down to the smallest detail and sometimes provide more information about the people living there than what Charles finds out about them in his conversations. Faucets decorated with gold, luxury furniture and a huge entrance hall do the rest to ensure that despite the low production money of just 10 million dollars (for comparison: the makers of “Murder on the Orient Express” were able to draw on around 55 million) you never feel like it can get enough of the kitsch and junk that those in charge have come up with here. The camera only moves for a few moments (Sebastian Winterø, “Never Here”) also outside the house, for example to revel in the lush and similarly pedantically furnished estates, or to give the viewer a closer look at the background of the main character Charles through flashbacks. This shows Charles and Sophia getting to know each other in the Egyptian metropolis of Cairo. In addition, a handful of scenes also take place in Charles’ detective agency.
Told from the protagonist’s perspective, the audience, just like the protagonist, only gradually gets to know all the suspects’ peculiarities. And unlike in many crime novels, we are rarely one step ahead of Charles Hayward. Only in very rare cases does the camera focus a little longer on certain details that the detective has long since lost sight of, or does the music (composer: Hugo de Chaire, “Capsule”) ensures that we perceive a scene as (not) threatening from the start, while Charles first has to figure out how to assess the respective situation. This sometimes makes it a little easier for the audience to untangle the family structure, which is both spectacular and occasionally confusing, and whose complexity invites you to puzzle over which of all these suspects is really the murderer. Anyone who knows the resolution will of course miss the surprise effect at the end of “The Crooked House”. For everyone else, this is likely to work because of the false leads that have been laid in advance, even if here, as in the case of “Murder on the Orient Express”, it is primarily about the route to the destination and not the destination itself.
Josephine (Honor Kneafsey) is not only a gifted dancer, but also wants to become a detective.
And it’s not just pretty amusing and quite stylish, it’s also full of stars and starlets, even if “The Crooked House” can’t keep up with the huge and, above all, internationally known star power of “Murder on the Orient Express”. This time a different, sometimes even more noble cast composition (since it is not permanently visible on the screen) takes the lead. In addition to Glenn Close (for “The Nobel Prize Winner’s Wife”), who has a great chance of winning an Oscar next season, there is the British shooting star Max Irons (“The Woman in Gold”)Christina Hendricks (“The Neon Demon”) and “The X-Files” star Gillian Anderson, Gilles Paquet-Brenner’s film doesn’t skimp on well-known actors either. They all form a harmonious ensemble that harmonize well with each other, although with their eccentric quirks they could just as easily outdo each other. But even if “The Crooked House” occasionally threatens to lose its authenticity due to too much acting, this does not detract from its entertainment value: When Lady Edith shoots moles with a rifle in pure frenzy, Christina Hendricks’s embodied, young widow lounging on a couch between attempted seduction and self-pity, or the self-confident 12-year-old Josephine (Honor Kneafsey) playing a young detective, all of these quirky characters give the film a dynamic that “The Crooked House” lacks a little in terms of narrative leaves. However, it should be noted that the template has gathered a bit of dust over the years.
Conclusion: In terms of staging, director Gilles Paquet-Brenner takes few risks and thus captures the spirit of the original. His calm Agatha Christie adaptation “The Crooked House” is a classic crime thriller with interesting characters and a magnificent backdrop that the novelist would certainly have liked.
“The Crooked House” can be seen in USA cinemas from November 29th.