A Haunting in Venice (2023) Review

By Allison Rose   X Formly Known as Twitter
3 Min Read

This is Branagh's third adaptation of a Christie/Poirot novel and so far, it is his best.

If one were to list the greatest mystery novel writers of all time, Agatha Christie would undoubtedly be in the top ten.  Having written her first novel in 1916 and her last in 1973, she spent over fifty years weaving tales of murder and creating beloved characters that have endured even to this day.  One such character is Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, who appeared in half of Christie's stories and has been brought to life in both films and on television. The most recent adaptation of Christie's work, Hallowe'en Party, is A Haunting In Venice starring actor, writer, director, and producer Kenneth Branagh (Much Ado About Nothing). This is the third time in recent years that Branagh has directed and starred as Poirot.

Hercule Poirot has retired from detective work and lives a quiet yet mundane life in Venice, Italy.  Constantly hounded by individuals seeking his help, he rarely leaves the house and does not entertain guests.  However, when his friend and mystery novelist, Ariadne Oliver (Tina Fey; 30 Rock) comes to visit, she asks Poirot to accompany her to a seance in hopes he can discredit the medium, Mrs. Reynolds (Michelle Yeoh; Everything, Everywhere, All at Once), and he does just that while invited guests watch. Before anyone can leave though, Mrs. Reynolds ends up dead and Poirot must once again go to work.

With the doors to the home locked and all the suspects inside, Poirot and Ms. Oliver interview each guest individually.  From the housekeeper, Olga Seminoff (Camille Cottin; House of Gucci) to Rowena Drake (Kelly Reilly; Sherlock Holmes), the homeowner and famous Opera singer, and the Doctor who treated Rowen's daughter, Dr. Leslie Ferrier (Jamie Dornan; Fifty Shades of Grey) everyone seemed to have reason for wanting Mrs. Reynolds dead.  However, when Dr. Ferrier is also murdered, while locked inside the music room, Poirot gathers all the clues and, once again, solves the case.

Branagh, as a director, always makes things interesting with various camera angles and close-ups meant to have the audience questioning if something is important or not. As for Poirot, I find him a little annoying as he plays the role with an arrogance that comes across as obnoxious.  Fey is good as the American novelist whose most recent books have been panned by critics and Yeoh, is sharp-tongued as the medium out to be discredited.  However, though his role is supporting, Jude Hill (Belfast) once again shines in a Branagh-helmed production.  Hill is one to watch and it will be interesting to see how his career progresses.

The setting for this murder mystery could not have been more well chosen.  The rundown home sitting on a canal in Venice lends itself beautifully to the tale.  From the dark corners to the locked chambers in the basement (where orphans were supposedly locked in to die) there seems to always be something "lurking around the corner".  Of course, the canal plays its own role in the film, as it is the supposed suicide location for Rowena's daughter, whom they are trying to reach during the seance, as is the tumultuous rain pouring down. The setting and the props enhance the overall feel of creepiness in the film.

This is Branagh's third adaptation of a Christie/Poirot novel and so far, it is his best. Murder on the Orient Express wasn't as good as the original and Death on the Nile looked fake in a poor attempt to CGI Egypt.  A Haunting in Venice has not only an air of authenticity but also weaves a touch of a supernatural element into the plot to keep the audience guessing while Poirot uses clues and logic to solve three murders.  

Grade: B+

Cast:
Directed By:
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 103 minutes
Distributed By: 20th Century Studios

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For more information about A Haunting in Venice visit the FlickDirect Movie Database. For more reviews by Allison Rose please click here.

A Haunting in Venice images are courtesy of 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.


FlickDirect, Allison   Rose

Allison Rose, a Senior Correspondent and Critic at FlickDirect, is a dynamic presence in the entertainment industry with a communications degree from Hofstra University. She brings her film expertise to KRMS News/Talk 97.5 FM and broadcast television, and is recognized as a Tomatometer-Approved Critic. Her role as an adept event moderator in various entertainment industry forums underscores her versatility. Her affiliations with SEFCA, the Florida Film Critics Circle, and the Online Film Critics Society highlight her as an influential figure in film criticism and media.




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