And Then There Were None full movie review - Among the best of all the adaptations of Agatha Christie's masterpiece
And Then Were None is one of my favourite Agatha Christie books, as well as one of my favourites of all time.
The plot is simply ingenious, as well as a contender for Christie's darkest, as is the final solution (left me completely floored on first reading, though it is very difficult to pull off adaptation-wise), there is a suspenseful and ominous atmosphere evoked and the characters are interesting.
This latest adaptation of And Then There Were None is a massive improvement over BBC's previous attempt at adapting Christie (the disappointing Partners in Crime), and of the 7 adaptations it is the third best behind the 1987 Russian(the most faithful) and the 1945 Rene Clair(which had a particularly great cast) versions. Although the 1974 adaptation doesn't have a particularly good reputation- while with major flaws I don't think it's that bad-, the only one that she don't care for is the 1989 version.
While some may find fault with some aspects like the much talked about swearing, gruesome killings and the ending they weren't a problem personally. Some may find the violence and swearing is gratuitous, not me, while the swearing is somewhat anachronistic for Christie it does fit the characters' increasingly fragile states of mind and doesn't feel that out of place within the increasingly dire situation, Aiden Turner's much talked about sex appeal wasn't that much of a distraction either. Speaking of the nature of the killings, a few like Rogers, Blore and to a lesser extent Emily Brent (by far the creepiest murder) were pretty gruesome in method to begin with. Some may also feel the ending too drawn out or rushed (a criticism that is understandable, the ending here doesn't go through a chapter's worth of detail, so it is understandable that people wanted more explanation as to how they were chosen and why the situation happened), while there is a rather drawn out hanging it is incredibly suspenseful, the confrontation between Vera and the murderer is chilling, helped by that the murderer has never been more calm or cold in any other adaptation of this story and that Vera is at her most reprehensible (from memory it is the only adaptation to show that), a good thing as it is implied in the book that she is the most reprehensible of them all. Kudos to the writers for, while not being completely faithful, having a more faithful ending (which would have been difficult as the book's ending works brilliantly as a literary device but poses problems cinematically) than the alternate ending that half the adaptations of the book adopted.
In fact, my only complaints were that some of the crimes of the victims (McArthur's, Rogers and Blore's, whose crimes were so blatant that it was amazing that in the adaptation they didn't cause any suspicion) did go against why the murderer did kill, killing those who may not have been directly responsible for the deaths but were just as culpable, and I really did miss the build up to the death of Emily Brent, that part was one of the most nightmare-inducing of the book and would have been really effective if included.
Other than these criticisms, this adaptation of And Then There Were None was great. It is a fantastic-looking adaptation, with stylish filming and locations and lighting that looked both beautiful and effectively claustrophobic, with the house quite rightly like a character in itself. The music is suitably ominous without being overbearing, and the script has plenty of entertaining and nail-biting parts, following the creepy Nursery rhyme pretty closely (with Blore being the only exception), as well as being intelligently written. Narratively, And Then There Were None does start off a little on the slow side, but after the dinner scene it becomes captivatingly gripping, with a genuine sense of claustrophobic dread, up to the end credits. Some may find in the third episode that the drunk scene was out of place, for me while not in the book, it certainly did fit the idea of it being the remaining characters' last night and that they knew it. Which was actually one of the remarkable things about this adaptation, that as well as being a mystery it was a psychological character study too, something that not every adaptation did. What was also fun about this adaptation was having friends and family not familiar with the story, and hearing them trying to work out aloud who the murderer was and seeing them visibly taken aback at the real murderer's identity (this viewer can relate, being the same when first reading the book).
And Then There Were None, lastly, has a great cast, consisting of talented actors. This is particularly true with Charles Dance, who has a cold but understated authority, Aiden Turner, who has more than just sex appeal having also broodiness (my friends were convinced it was him, Armstrong or Vera responsible for a while), and Burn Gorman, who had a menacing but also nervous intensity. Maeve Dermody is also deserving of credit for bringing some vulnerability to Vera but also steel, and it was great to see Vera show her true colours at the end which we didn't get to see enough of in other adaptations that adopted the alternate ending. Miranda Richardson's Emily Brent is a character we feel repulsion and pity for, and while Toby Stephens may seem like he's overacting occasionally again it is perfectly fitting with Armstrong's state of mind. Douglas Booth is young, handsome and somewhat annoying, but really that's essentially what the role calls for (the only thing that's missing that was there in the other versions is a rendition of the frighteningly omnipresent poem). Sam Neill is solid as are Anna Maxwell Martin and Noah Taylor, though with comparatively little to do.
To conclude, has some imperfections here and there but still one of the better adaptations of one of Christie's masterpieces. 9/10 Bethany Cox