A Haunting in Venice (12A) |Close-Up Film Review

Dir: Kenneth Branagh, US/ UK/Italy 2023, 103 mins.

Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Tina Fey, Jude Hill, Kelly Reilly, Michelle Yeoh

Review by Carlie Newman

Kenneth Branagh does himself and Agatha Christie proud as he both directs and stars in A Haunting in Venice. Together with Michael Green, who wrote the screenplay, he manages to portray the period of the story and the gloomy weather and setting of a rainy Venice.

From Agatha Christie’s 1969 book, ‘Hallowe’en Party’, the setting has been moved from England to Italy. The story takes place post WW2 in 1947.

Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh), who is now retired, is lured to a seminar by his friend Ariadne Oliver (Tina Fey), a mystery writer, who is keen to see the well-known medium (Michelle Yeoh) in action.

The séance takes place at the home of Rowena Drake (Kelly Reilly), a top opera singer. Rowena is desperately trying to contact her dead daughter. Weird events take place during and after the séance, including deaths! And Poirot is forced to consider ghosts versus reality.

The characters around him are well played – unlike the somewhat over-acting depicted in Death on the Nile. Fey is particularly good and has an amusing way of putting across a funny one liner. There is a good characterisation by Kelly Reilly of the grieving mother. Watch out for the growing talent displayed by Jude Hill as the son of a shell-shocked and mentally injured father. He was young Branagh in Belfast. Branagh twirls his moustache and is the Poirot we have come to love.

Apart from some of the spooky effects, there is comedy on display here too. Filmed with great skill by cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos, there are intriguing close ups of unusual bits of Venice and strange corners of the main set.

If a mystery who-done-it is up your street, you won’t go far wrong with this well-acted Agatha Christie spectacular.