A Haunting in Venice: Movie Review

A Haunting in Venice Movie Review: Third Time's the Charm

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Kenneth Branagh delivers a distinct performance as Hercule Poirot and as director in the third installment of the trilogy, and it's arguably the finest of the three. "A Haunting in Venice" takes a bold departure from the conventional Poirot narrative, introducing a fresh and intriguing concept that adds depth to the character and to the mystery. This time, the story delves into the supernatural, diverging from the logical approach seen in past films, making it a captivating departure from the norm and an experiment for Branagh that simply worked.

Retired detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) now enjoys a tranquil life in Venice. His peace is disrupted when his old friend Ariadne Oliver (Tina Fey) invites him to debunk a séance, sparking his curiosity. However, an unexpected murder occurs during the gathering, forcing Poirot to employ his legendary investigative skills one more time.

While "A Haunting in Venice" may not boast the most intricately concealed twists or revelations especially when contrasted to previous Hercule Poirot films by Kenneth Branagh, it more than compensates with its cinematic journey. The film's standout aspect is its portrayal of Poirot confronting the occult. This is not only a tale that unravels the identity of the murderer but also challenges our protagonist on his belief in the after life and vengeful spirits. The film skillfully maintains a balance between these two contrasting aspects and never definitively proving one's existence and superiority over the other, ultimately leading to a satisfying conclusion for all involved.

The shift in tone, from a methodical detective story to one involving the supernatural, is no small feat, and Kenneth Branagh excels both in front of and behind the camera. While not a horror film per se, it incorporates well-timed jump scares and well-shot Dutch angles that keep the audience on edge throughout its runtime. The film also excels in its use of audio, effectively immersing the audience in the eerie atmosphere. For example, whenever a disembodied voice disturbs Poirot during an interrogation, the audience shares the chilling experience, feeling as though they are right there with him and hearing the same thing no one else can hear.

However, the film's Achilles' heel is its runtime. At just under two hours, it leaves much to be desired in terms of character development and story depth. The climactic whodunit revelation, in particular, feels rushed compared to the film's deliberately slow pace in its first half. In summary, Kenneth Branagh delivers his most compelling portrayal and character piece of Hercule Poirot in this third installment. While the prospect of success for future Poirot films may pose a challenge still, this departure from the norm has left us eagerly anticipating what comes next in the series.

Rating: 4 reels

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