Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Murder on the Orient Express (2010) – Review

Hercule Poirot: The rule of law, it must be held high and if it falls you pick it up and hold it even higher!

*May contain some spoilers for the Poirot series*

For those of you who love detective stories and have not seen the Poirot series– Watch them!

Murder on the Orient Express (2010) sees David Suchet reprise his role as the well-loved genius detective Hercule Poirot.

David Suchet has thus far, since taking on the role in 1989, portrayed Poirot 68 times (soon to be 70, in 2014, with Curtain). For many, including myself, Suchet embodies Poirot, bringing to life all of the character’s unique mannerisms and eccentricities- right down to his perfectly curled (and of course completely symmetrical!) moustache. Having seen Suchet in other roles, I have great admiration for how he manages to transform himself completely.

[Suchet demonstrates how he conceived Poirot’s voice:]

Directed by Martin Philips (who previously directed shows like on Wallander and Prime Suspect), Murder on the Orient Express is number 65 in Suchet’s Poirot collection.

The general plot of the film is as follows: Poirot boards the Orient Express to return to London following a visit to Istanbul. On the train, he is approached by a dodgy American businessman who claims to want to engage Poirot’s services. Poirot declines, rather unceremoniously (“I do not like your face, Monsieur Ratchett”). Later, as the train is forced to a standstill due to a blizzard, Mr. Ratchett is found brutally murdered, stabbed multiple times. Poirot attempts to uncover the murderer.

Having seen the 1974 version of Murder on the Orient Express starring Albert Finney as Poirot, I can say with certainty that this (the 2010 version) is a much superior production in many ways. First, and perhaps most importantly, Poirot is played with greater subtlety by Suchet (as opposed to Finney’s boisterous, over the top performance); the plot, though deviating from the novel in a number of respects is greatly enhanced and lent more depth through Martin Philip’s (and the screenwriter, Stewart Harcourt’s) interpretation than through the true-to-the-novel 1974 version.

Here we have a contrast to the Poirot of earlier episodes in the series; the Poirot we are presented with now is old- aged as a result of time and as a result of the burden of his profession. This Poirot is much more serious and sombre. And this storyline, too, is more than just a mystery to be solved- it deals with heavy themes such as justice, vigilantism, and morality. We witness the character growth of Poirot as he is faced with a moral dilemma unlike any other in his career; as his very core principles are challenged and shaken- and Philips and Harcourt manage to effectively, and understatedly, link this to the theme of Poirot’s religious beliefs (Christie characterised him as a Roman Catholic, and P&H successful bring in this element without undermining the plot in anyway- instead it enhances the impact of the plot).

Acting: Brilliant

Suchet simply is Poirot- and this performance is his best Poirot to date. The supporting cast also deliver compelling performances (Note-worthy: Eileen Atkins as Princess Dragomiroff, Marie-Josee Croze as Greta Ohlsson).

Script/ Dialogue: Really good.

The screenplay is so well written- each bit of dialogue serves to further certain major themes and aid the viewer to make his/her deductions alongside Poirot.

Cinematography: Good 4/5

The ending scene is superb.

Music: Good 4/5

Without a doubt my favourite Poirot adaptation


3 thoughts on “Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Murder on the Orient Express (2010) – Review

  1. There were so many mistakes in this movie. One, the entire train consisted of Pullman cars. That may have been the case for the route between London and Folkstone (or Dover), but certainly not the case between France and Turkey. The movie featured car attendant Pierre Michel serving as a waiter in the dining car. Mobsters from organized criminal gangs were NOT in the habit of kidnapping the children of wealthy citizens. Certainly not in the 1930s and not without attracting the attention of the Federal government. And a Chicago mobster like Cassetti committing a crime in New York . . . without creating a hullaballoo between the criminal families of the two cities? I don’t think so. I doubt that the Chicago mobs had New York judges, attorneys and politicians in their back pockets. And I doubt that the New York families would be so willing to help out Cassetti after what he had pulled.

    The screenwriter failed to do his homework.

    • True! I still enjoyed other aspects of the film – the acting, the characterizations etc. But I agree that many plot devices were rather contrived.

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