Producer(s): Sally Wood, Joseph Abrams, James Spring
Director(s): Gilles Paquet-Brenner
Cast: Glenn Close, Christina Hendricks, Max Irons, Stefanie Martini, Gillian Anderson, Terence Stamp…
Motion Picture Rating (MPAA): PG-13
Runtime: 1 hour 55 minutes
Genres: Crime drama/Mystery
List Price: $19.99 (DVD) $25.99 (Blu-ray)
by Larry Jung
The film CROOKED HOUSE (2017) was a disappointment for me as a mystery fan. Though based on Agatha Christie’s book by the same name, the screen play by Julian Fellowes, the directing by Gilles Paquet-Brenner, and the various performances did the book little justice. The story had no sense of urgency and no suspense. The movie failed to convince me that whoever murdered head of the household and business tycoon Aristide Leonides (Gino Picciano) would strike at the family again. Though every one of Leonides’s dysfunctional family had a financial or personal motive to get rid of the domineering tyrant, with Aristide’s death all the family members would seemingly get what they want.
Charles Hayward (Max Irons), the private investigator, seemed ignorant of how to carry out a murder investigation. After his visiting the crime scene and talking with the suspects, his major conclusion is that everyone in the household had motive and opportunity to do the murder. That was pretty much understood at the start. Hayward has no timeline, no alibis, no physical clues, no theories. Hayward’s interviews of the suspects do not advance his investigation or the story. Since the movie is from Hayward’s point of view, both the investigation and the viewers have not advanced into solving the whodunit.
Interesting characters and strong performances by the supporting cast might have saved CROOKED HOUSE. Unfortunately, the suspects were the usual stereotypes that populate the English Manor murder and whodunit genre. Unfortunately, none of the cast gave a performance that added any life to their characters. Some of the scenes were dreadful to watch. The way the movie was edited, the various characters could have been in different movies. There was no chemistry at all with the cast.
When it was time to end the movie, Charles Hayward has to be given the solution to who murdered Aristide Leonides so the movie can end. If the film makers hoped the twist at the end would make up for a lifeless mystery, they were mistaken. The twist for today’s audience does not have the same shock value as when the book CROOKED HOUSE was originally published in 1949.
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