Even though I love the series Agatha Christie’s Poirot, I have been moaning of late. Elephants Can Remember felt too cheaply produced. The Big Four was poorly scripted. But I am overjoyed to report that Dead Man’s Folly, the film that airs tonight on ITV HD and ITV, is terrific. I was lucky enough to see the film on the big screen at the BFI Southbank earlier this week (followed, rather marvellously, by a Q&A with David Suchet) and it is a sumptuous adaptation of Christie’s novel.
Shot in and around Christie’s home Greenaway, this film dramatises one of Christie’s best books. It also sees Poirot joining forces for the last time with Ariadne Oliver, his friend and occasional partner in crime-solving. It’s great to see them together again after the rather disappointing Elephants Can Remember in the summer.
The plot concerns a murder-hunt gone wrong. What was meant to be a bit of fun at a garden party turns out to have a rather nasty result; the death of a 14 year old girl. So Poirot and the local detective (Miranda’s Tom Ellis), along with help from Mrs Oliver, try to get to the bottom of a platter of family secrets and wrong-doing.
The supporting cast is first-rate, including some excellent turns from Martin Jarvis and Sean Pertwee. The real highlight is an exceptional performance from the wonderful veteran actor Sinéad Cusack. It’s great to see her appear in such a substantial role that allows her to use the wealth of talent and experience she has gathered over the years.
The oddest fact is that this film is directed by Tom Vaughan, who made (and I am not making this up) the tragically unfunny Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher movie What Happened In Vegas. It’s good to see that this episode is of a much higher standard than that insult to cinema.
My only complaint: the incongruously cheery arrangement of the original Poirot theme by Christopher Gunning that airs over the end credits. It’s alright in itself, but it somewhat ruins the atmosphere created by the superbly effective closing scenes of the film. A bit of a pity, but not a disaster. This is still a glorious return to form for the series as it moves towards its final act.
Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Dead Man’s Folly airs on ITV HD and ITV tonight at 8PM. It will be available to watch on ITV Player for a limited time after the broadcast.