Sunday, May 27, 2018

REVIEW: Crooked House (live action movie)

Crooked House is a mystery movie based on Agatha Christie's book of the same title. I haven't read the book and so am unable to say how the two compare.

Charles Hayward, a private investigator, is approached by Sophia Leonides, a former lover of his, about investigating the death of her grandfather, a wealthy businessman named Aristide Leonides. Aristide died of a heart attack in the home he shared with his wife, his sons and their spouses, and his grandchildren. Sophia has reason to believe that someone else in the household killed her grandfather. If Charles can figure out who did it before Scotland Yard gets involved, the family might be able to avoid the embarrassment of a media circus.

Charles reluctantly takes the case and soon finds himself wading through the family's tangled web of festering resentments and secrets. Aristide's young new wife is an obvious suspect, but was she really the killer, as so many in the household seem to believe?

I saw the trailer for this a while back and really wanted to watch it. It looked slick, tense, and possibly a bit creepy. I checked the book out from the library, but for some reason I was never able to work up the willpower to read it.

Now that I've seen this, I wonder if I'd have figured out the killer as quickly if I'd started with the book instead.

The visuals were definitely slick and pretty. The story wasn't as suspenseful as the trailer made it look, but I enjoyed watching Charles talk to each of the family members and try to figure out what made them all tick and what their motives for killing Aristide could have been. I wasn't nearly as interested in Charles and Sophia's relationship, past or present. At least their past relationship made sense, though. I couldn't figure out why present-day Charles kept kissing or almost kissing Sophia when he knew she was probably keeping things from him and that one of those things might be that she murdered her own grandfather.

I correctly guessed the identity of the murderer fairly early on because, even in that family, their behavior and dialogue struck me as odd and off-putting. However, it was still only a guess until the second victim was shown on-screen - then I knew with 100% certainty who is was. The motive and opportunity were too clear. Again, I can't help but wonder if it would have taken me longer to figure things out if I had read this story first, rather than watched it. Some things are easier to hide in text than they are on-screen.

The ending was overly abrupt and a bit over-the-top (that explosion was enormous), but the whodunnit sequence was fabulous and chilling even though I'd already figured out who the murderer was. All in all, this was decent, despite its issues.

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