Movie Review || Murder on the Orient Express

I hardly ever seem to put up movie reviews, so here’s one for the film adaption of one of my fave books! 🙂


Visually lush and studded with a cast of characters each more intriguing than the other played by renowned actors, this 2017 adaptation of Agatha Christie’s most well-known murder mysteries, Murder on the Orient Express rehashes a known story with a wholly fresh veneer and follows the detective Hercule Poirot as he attempts to solve the mystery of a murdered train passenger and uncover the travelers’ secrets.

The cinematography of the film is brilliant: the movie picks up in Istanbul, and extreme long shots are used to show the scape of the city—the color grading here is also quite nice, using deep, warm golds and oranges to give a feel for the richness of the bustling metropolis. Much of the movie also takes place on a train, and aerial view shots are used effectively to show the train’s long journey as it moves across the snowcapped mountains of Europe, and the audience is captivated. Here the lighting is airy and crisp, reflective of the season and setting. When one of the characters is interrogated outside upon the breaking down of the Orient Express, it almost feels as though the viewer is standing outside in the winter air due to the clear brittleness of the light. The inside of the train, in great contrast, is dimly lit by only candles and small lamps.Image result for murder on the orient express

As it is a period film, the costumes are all reflective of the time the story takes place. They are each intricate and unique; the higher-class travelers on the train don thick fur coats and sparkling jewelry while the more common folk wear simpler clothing that is no less detailed. The makeup is mostly kept understated with berry lipsticks and nude eyeshadows to reflect the looks of the day, and the men of the film almost all have the pencil mustaches that were popular then. Hercule Poirot’s is the most prominent, of course, staying true to Poirot’s signature mustache in Agatha Christie’s novels.

The sets are just as sumptuous as the film’s wardrobe. The train, for one, is the Orient Express, which was a historical train that was the epitome of luxury in the 1930s. It is marvelously detailed and stylish, but not lacking any of the claustrophobia that comes with the close-quarters of long distance by train.

Not intruding on the dialogue and happenings of the movie but helping to accentuate the gravity of the situation the movie revolves around, melancholic and dramatic piano and strings make up Murder on the Orient Express’s soundtrack.

Kenneth Branagh stars as Poirot, who utterly dominates the screen with his commanding, visibly intelligent, and somewhat eccentric demeanor. The rest of the star-studded cast performs just as well, playing the roles of the train’s passengers so that the viewers can’t help but be suspicious of them while also rooting for them. They all make much out of very little; that is to say, brief intervals of interrogation are deftly handled to communicate to the viewer each character’s troubles and personality. At the conclusion of the whodunit, Michelle Pfeiffer particularly stands out in an emotional performance that is moving and evocative of the themes of the movie, which deal with how lives can be torn apart, the efforts people will go to avenge those who have been wronged, and, to the obsessive but brilliant Poirot’s horror, the disorder of the world and messiness of people.

Murder on the Orient Express is somewhat slow-paced and rather dialogue-dependent; there is suspense throughout, certainly—it is a murder mystery, after all—but it relies heavily on the actors’ powerful presences as Poirot flits from cabin to cabin interrogating the passengers. The denouement comes at the perfect time—just when most viewers would be completely mystified by the direction the mystery is heading—or when more observant viewers begin to have an inkling of who the murderer may be.

Though this iconic mystery has been made into a film several times, Murder on the Orient Express stuns the senses and does not fail to encapsulate the suspense and richness of this novel.

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Book Review || Murder on the Orient Express

Hello all! 😛

Hope your March is going well so far. Isn’t it funny that it’s already March and yet it’s also only just March? (Does that make any sense whatsoever? No? Alright, moving on.) I mentioned in my last post that I read Murder on the Orient Express and promised you all a review. Well, here it is! Hope you enjoy my review as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Book Review Logo

Author: Agatha Christie

Publishing Company: HarperCollins Publishers (William Marrow)

Release Year: 1934

Genre(s): Historical fiction, mystery, murder mystery

Series: The Hercule Poirot Mysteries


My Synopsis

The year is 1930-something. Hercule Poirot, the brilliant Belgian sleuth is travelling in the winter through Stamboul and across Europe. It should be a fairly simple journey, but where Monsieur Poirot goes, mystery–and murder–follows. What proceeds is a first class passenger found dead in his train cabin; stabbed fifteen times, no less! Monsieur Poirot, along with his acquaintances, the French Monsieur Bouc and Greek Dr. Constantine, takes it upon himself to investigate. But this seems to be a case like no other; there are too many clues and too many suspects. Who does the pipe found at the scene of the murder belong to? Who is this mysterious lady in a red kimono some of the passengers recall seeing? Why was the train conductor’s button in the victim, Mr. Ratchett’s, room if the conductor never lost his button? agatha christie.jpgAnd, more importantly, is the killer on the loose  in snowy Yugoslavia or still in the train?

A whirlwind of questioning, confusion, and alibi after alibi follows. A diverse cast of travellers, from the chatty American lady Mrs. Hubbard to the elegant Princess Dragomiroff to the terse British Colonel Arbuthnot, explain their point of view to the sleuth, each with their own stories and observances that, impossibly, seem to match up and yet contradict each other at the same time. As Poirot, Bouc, and Constantine question each passenger, the situation becomes even more absurd. Who is innocent? Who is guilty? And how on earth will this mystery be solved?

My Thoughts

I should probably start off my saying this is my first Agatha Christie novel, and I am super eager to reading her other books! Murder on the Orient Express was honestly the best whodunit I’ve read–then again, it was written by the “The Queen of Murder” herself. 😉

The writing is great. It’s very colorful and descriptive and all the characters are so, so well developed; each of them have their own habits and ways of speaking that will have you looking at them with suspicion or fondness. Don’t expect the writing to be overly florid, and make no mistake, every sentence adds something to the plot; there isn’t a single word that is there simply as filler. Dame Christie’s ironic sense of humour also had me smiling quite often. Hercule Poirot’s companions, M. Bouc and Dr. Constantine, while clueless in the art of sleuthing, are endearing, and the detective himself is truly a great protagonist; all quick-wit and intuition and asking the right things in the right ways to get the answers he wants.

Another point that really struck me: the entire novel takes place on a stationary Orient Express that has been snowed in in the mountains of Yugoslavia–a classic “locked room mystery.” And yet, neither does the setting get old, nor do the characters; most likely because the situation changes every chapter.

murder on the orient express.jpgNow, it’s rather difficult to do this book justice without explaining the entire situation in great detail, but I will say this: every new page brought a new twist in the mystery. Just when I thought that everything had gotten too absurd to solve and gave up on trying to figure out the murderer, the great Poirot’s fine-tuned mind put all the discrepancies together and produced an outcome I could never have even considered. Agatha Christie took a murder and then wove a tangled web of clues and characters that led to an incredible ending. 🙂

In short: Looking for a quick, well-written, crazy good mystery novel that will have you turning pages eagerly? Look no further and pick this one up!

(Update: Fun fact from a commenter below–Agatha Christie allegedly stayed in Room 41 at the “Pera Palace Hotel” in Istanbul while writing this novel. Has anyone ever been there? I sure would like to! 😀 J.K. Rowling’s hotel room is quite famous now as well; in fact, the room Rowling stayed in at the Balmoral Hotel has been named the “J.K. Rowling Suite”!)

❤ Yasimone