A Haunting in Venice (2023)
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Screenplay by: Michael Green based on Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie
Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Dornan, Tina Fey, Riccardo Scamarcio.
Tagline: Death is just the beginning.
The year is 1947. The world famous detective Hercule Poirot (Branagh) is retired and living in Venice. Because of Poirot’s fame, people from all over the world attempt to hire him. Poirot turns down every offer.
When Poirot’s old friend, mystery author Ariadne Oliver (Fey) visits, she tells Poirot about psychic Joyce Reynolds (Yeoh). Poirot scoffs. All psychics are frauds. Ariadne agrees, but says that she couldn’t figure out how Joyce Reynolds pulls off her readings. Ariadne says that if the smartest person she knows (herself) can’t figure it out, perhaps the second smartest (Poirot) can.
Ariande invites Poirot to attend a Halloween séance. It will be held in a building that was once an orphanage. It is now said to be haunted by orphans who were locked in and left to die during a plague. Joyce Reynolds will lead the séance. Poirot agrees to come along. Ariande figures Poirot will either expose Reynolds as a fraud or not. Either way she will have a story.
Everyone invited arrives for the séance. Reynolds while channeling a spirit says that one of the people in attendance is a murderer! In short order, Joyce Reynolds is found impaled on a statue. Periot locks everyone in. One of them is the killer.
Hercule Poirot is out of retirement.
Thoughts (beware of spoilers
Kenneth Branagh filmed on location in Venice. He also didn’t tell the actors in advance about things like doors slamming, lights suddenly going out, etc. He wanted to get their actual responses to startling events.
This was Tina Fey’s first appearance in a feature film or television production that wasn’t a comedy. She was excellent as Ariadne Oliver.
This is Kenneth Branagh’s third outing as Hercule Poiroit. He starred and directed Murder on the Orient Express (2017), Death on the Nile (2022) as well as A Haunting in Venice (2023). I hope he does more.