Did we like it?
Well, it was classic Poirot, what’s not to like? Apart from the lack of real grit or menace, obviously.
What was good about it?
• All the ingredients for a typical Poirot case were set up within minutes: aristocrats, a young, beautiful, naiive woman for Poirot to perve over in the guise of being ‘at her service’, Americans, a mistreated wife, Poirot making sure his moustache was perfect, inheritance money swilling around and an evil idiot who is the obvious candidate for any murder, so you know there’s no chance that he’ll be guilty.
• The direction seemed to have moved into the 21st century, with a lot of very tight close-ups and plenty of whips and hard cutting, as if the camera was reflecting the analytical eyes of Poirot himself.
• The usual brilliant performance from David Suchet – but was that a body suit he wore? Even for Poirot, he looked enormous. Fabulous suits, though.
Also excellent were Lindsay Duncan as loopy Lady Tamplin and Georgina Rylance as gauche Katherine; the rest of the cast – including Elliott Gould, Jaime Murray, James D’Arcy, Oliver Milburn, Tom Harper – were merely good.
• A nice moment of knowingness when Poirot pointed at one character and said as someone least likely to commit the murder they must be high on the list of suspects.
• Some funny moments involving the various toffs being rich and ignorant.
• As usual, it was very difficult to guess who did it. We suspected the eventual murderers on a couple of occasions before the end, but each time discarded them as the plot twisted to throw us off the scent.
What was bad about it?
• The inspector, played by Roger Lloyd Pack, was rather marginalised – he offered a couple of theories but generally didn’t seem to do much except stand next to Poirot. We prefer Inspector Japp’s stronger presence.
• At the end, everyone gathered back in the train, a few days after they’d left it, to hear the final denouement. Obviously, this has to be done, it’s Christie after all, but it felt false and it didn’t make sense for everyone to go back there – why not do it at the police station?
• It was a Poirot without Captain Hastings, and it’s always good to see Hastings there missing the point all the time and being unlucky in love.