Poirot: Appointment With Death Review: Moustache Justice

December 24, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews


Christmas Day wouldn’t be Christmas Day without a thick slice of murder and a dollop of Belgian detective on the side. David Suchet waxes up his mustachios for another outing as the diminutive detective and it’s as head-scratchingly entertaining as ever.

Archaeologist, Lord Boynton (the ever-welcome and boisterous Tim Curry) has been labouring under the Syrian sun with the assistance of his son (Mark Gatkiss) in order to uncover the skull of John the Baptist.

Joining the expedition is his wife, the poison-tongued, wealthy American Lady Boynton (Cheryl Campbell), despised by everyone except Lord Boynton himself. She is accompanied by her three children, Raymond, Carol and Jinny, all who live in fear of the domineering battleaxe.

When Lady Boynton is found dead in the afternoon sun, it’s up to the holidaying Poirot to unravel the mystery. Unfortunately, Poirot has list of suspects as long as his arm, as an assortment of characters have descended upon the dig, each of whom has their own motives for Lady Boynton’s demise: psychiatrist Dr Gerard (John Hannah), the beautiful Dr Sarah King (Christina Cole), investor Jefferson Cope (Christian McKay) and famous travel writer Dame Celia Westholme (Elizabeth McGoven).

Further complicating matters are a Polish nun (Beth Goddard) and the Boyton Family Nanny (Angela Pleasence).

Why is it that wherever Poirot goes, murder follows? It’s a wonder that he hasn’t been locked up for being some kind of bio hazardous talisman by now; people should be running away to get out of his line of vision before he causes their neighbours to stab them with a pencil or poison their oatmeal.

Appointment With Death has all the usual Agatha Christie trademarks: more red herrings than a fisherman’s breakfast, more suspects than you can point an exquisitely manicured finger at and that all important Who Dunnit staple “Assemble in a room at the end so I can show you how much of a smug git I am? moment.

The thing is, as formulaic as the set up is, it really doesn’t matter because the show’s production values (an opening sequence that’s way better than all of The Mummy 3) and score (wonderfully orchestrated strings) and class-A talent work together to create something absolutely magnetic on the screen.

And the little twists and turns that are native to any Christie work will still cause you to pause with that fork halfway to your mouth, even though you know they’re coming.

The conclusion may be a little weak – even the most indulgent of viewers will probably raise an eyebrow and Appointment With Death was considered to be one of Christie’s lesser novels – but with such a wonderful cast (Tim Curry! Come on!) and polished production, it really doesn’t matter.

I must be getting soft as it’s Christmas time. Quick, someone get me some humbugs.

Julian Mott says:

Appointment with Death. What rubbish. I shan’t be watching Poirot any more. No Hastings. No Japp. Too many adverts particularly for other ITV programs. Just a formulaic script that was so slow moving it could have been condensed into one hour. Sure there was some stunning scenery and but what could some fine actors do with such tosh for a script? Suchet is excellent but ITV needs to move on. Miss Marple and Poirot have been done to death.

Lisa Jackson says:

As a Christie fan I was massively disappointed with this production – mainly because it bears absolutely no relation to the book whatsoever! All those little Christie like twists and turns you mention aren’t her at all but the creation of some staff writer. Utterly pointless changes too. What is the point of adapting something like Agatha Christie only to change the plot entirely!