January 23, 2018

Review: A ‘Crooked House’ of Murder and Resentment

Review: A ‘Crooked House’ of Murder and Resentment


Glenn Close in “Crooked House,” adapted from a 1949 Agatha Christie novel.

Vertical Entertainment

The premise of the murder mystery “Crooked House” is old school: A much-loathed patriarch is sent to his grave, and a houseful of resentful, back-stabbing kinfolk are under suspicion. This intermittently diverting movie is adapted from a 1949 Agatha Christie novel, and it’s several degrees more engaging than another recent Christie-based movie, “Murder on the Orient Express.” But it’s still slight.

Max Irons plays the young private eye Charles Hayward, who gets a visit in his dingy office from the beautiful Sophia (Stefanie Martini), an old love whose grandfather, an unpopular tycoon, has shuffled off this mortal coil under unusual circumstances. After consulting with the vinegary Scotland Yard hand Chief Inspector Taverner (Terence Stamp, always welcome), Charles sets out to the estate, filled with aunts, sons, in-laws and others, embodied by an all-star cast including Glenn Close, Julian Sands, Gillian Anderson and Christina Hendricks. Ms. Hendricks, her distinctive red hair here a vermilion that borders on magenta, plays an ex-showgirl who is the last wife of the dead old man.


Trailer: ‘Crooked House’

A preview of the film.

By SONY PICTURES on Publish Date December 19, 2017.

Image courtesy of Internet Video Archive.

Watch in Times Video »

The movie’s director, Gilles Paquet-Brenner, worked on the adaptation with Julian Fellowes, writer of Robert Altman’s acclaimed 2001 mansion mystery “Gosford Park.” At its best, as when Ms. Hendricks swans around her cavernous bedroom bopping to early rock ’n’ roll records, the movie feels like a version of “Gosford Park” taken over by François Ozon. But “Crooked House” is not so often this giddy. The superb cast provides mild pleasures, as do some aspects of the elaborate mystery itself. And that’s all, folks.

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