Art & Entertainment

‘A Haunting In Venice’ On Disney+ Hotstar Movie Review: Kenneth Branagh’s Hercule Poirot Act Grows On You Like Fine Wine

Kenneth Branagh is back with the third installment of his Hercule Poirot series with ‘A Haunting In Venice’. Is the film worth your time? Or can you simply skip it? Read the full movie review to find out.

‘A Haunting In Venice’
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‘A Haunting In Venice’: Cast & Crew

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Cast: Kyle Allen, Kenneth Branagh, Camille Cottin, Jamie Dornan, Tina Fey, Jude Hill, Ali Khan, Emma Laird, Kelly Reilly, Riccardo Scamarcio, Michelle Yeoh, Rowan Robinson, Amir El-Masry

Available On: Disney+ Hotstar

Duration: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

‘A Haunting In Venice’: Story

In post-World War II Venice, Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh), now retired and living in his own exile, reluctantly attends a séance. But when one of the guests is murdered, it is up to the former detective to once again uncover the killer. Will he be able to detect who is the murderer? Will he be able to uncover the deepest secrets hidden in the mansion where the séance is being conducted? Will he be able to bring a rational and logical explanation to the occurrences at the séance? Well, for all that you’ll have to watch ‘A Haunting In Venice’.

‘A Haunting In Venice’: Performances

Kenneth Branagh carries the entire weight of the film on his shoulders. The way he gets the accent correctly is applause-worthy. Also, he gets the nuances of the emotional highs and lows brilliantly. He is in the form of his life when he puts on the moustache and transforms himself into Hercule Poirot. The subtlety with which he performs the scenes where he is hallucinating is noteworthy as not many actors are able to get that right unless themselves being under the influence of such a hallucinogen. Branagh gets that to perfection and not once goes overboard with it. Not to forget, all this while he is also directing the entire show. So, kudos to his act.

Michelle Yeoh has been wasted, to be honest. Her screen time is minimal, and even though she performs brilliantly in that, somehow you feel that she has been shortchanged here. An actress of her calibre demands a bigger role, and this just felt like an extended cameo. However, she did manage to bring the unnerving feeling of horror to perfection with her facial expressions.

Tina Fay does exceedingly well in maintaining the mystery around her character. While she is usually the funny one in every film or show of hers, here she does manage to bring out a slightly different side of hers, which is so refreshing to see. She is still cracking sarcastic jokes at times, but it’s how she has managed to imbibe the body language of an author who’s out to find her next story, which makes her character stand out. It would be good to see her character reappear in the future Hercule Poirot films, and if not, a spin-off of her own wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Jamie Dornan is another actor who has been utterly wasted in a role that could have been done by just about any junior artiste. The character doesn’t have too much depth and is just there for the sake of extending the storyline ahead. There is even a fight sequence of his in the middle with Kyle Allen, which seems so forced that it feels like it was kept in the screenplay only to give the two actors some solo footage of their own.

Kelly Reilly does decently well in the small part that she’s given. While we have seen her in a similar coy character before in the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ movies, it’s a refreshing change to see her in something so drastically different after her massively popular role in ‘Yellowstone’. What’s best about her performance is how she lets her eyes do most of the talking even when she’s not actually having any dialogues. Switching between the varied emotions is what makes the character come out so strongly.

‘A Haunting In Venice’: Script, Direction & Technical Aspects

Michael Green’s writing of the screenplay adapted from Agatha Christie’s novel is pretty much the best part of the film. The way he has managed to get the numerous twists and turns especially towards the climax is brilliant. Your mind is constantly shuffling between who the murderer could be and when the eventual truth comes out, you are just left flummoxed.

Kenneth Branagh needs to be lauded doubly well as it’s immensely difficult to direct the same film in which you’re the lead star and pretty much present in almost 90 per cent of the scenes. Branagh manages to do the job exceedingly well. He does sag a bit in the initial 15-20 minutes of the film, but if you scuttle through that, then you’re left with something that’s genuinely a well-bred thriller. It’s the way he gets the narrative to come together so that you are hooked till the climax wanting to know whether or not your guesses about the murderer are right or not. Brilliantly done!

The cinematography by Haris Zambarloukos isn’t something that the makers should be proud of. It’s entirely shot in Venice, and Haris Zambarloukos has just been able to give us a glimpse of the exotic locales in just a few rooftop scenes at the start and at the end. Not to forget the entire story of the film, which happened in one night’s time, was too dark to comprehend. Now it does add to the spooky effect to keep the scenes darker but not to the extent that audiences find it difficult to keep pace with what’s happening onscreen. The lighting for the cameras should have been a bit more for comfort.

Hildur Guðnadóttir’s music is another high point of the film. The way he creates the backdrop of horror despite the movie being a detective film is applause-worthy. You’re left feeling right in the middle of the hullaballoo all thanks to the environment created by Hildur Guðnadóttir’s background score.

Lucy Donaldson’s editing could have been crisper. There are scenes in the opening half hour of the film which could have been cut differently so as to make the audiences feel more hooked to the storyline. It drags in those bits making the viewer go yawning.

‘A Haunting In Venice’: Can Kids Watch It?

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Yes

Outlook’s Verdict

‘A Haunting In Venice’ takes the classic Agatha Christie detective story tropes and tries to give a spin of horror to it. While it’s not one of the best films in the Hercule Poirot film series by Kenneth Branagh it surely does keep you on the edge of your seat till the very end. The murder mystery is really good and you’re left clueless when the final revelations happen. It grows on you like finely aged wine, which means you’ll have to bear through the initial bouts of disappointment or rather confusion, and once you’re past that, it’s as mysterious as the dark side of the moon. ‘A Haunting In Venice’ is definitely a Great One Time Watch. I am going with 3.5 stars.

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