THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!
Cooked House is the retelling of Agatha Christies 1949 novel by the same name. After the suspicious death of the head of the Leonides family, Detective Charles Hayward is assigned to the task of catching the killer.
Directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner, Crooked House is a beautiful but ultimately disappointing retelling of Christies 1949 classic. And by that I mean the film was made beautifully, but was also rather predictable...
Boasting a host of familiar faces, including Terrance Stamp, Gillian Anderson and the forever fabulous Glen Close, this film has be expertly cast with a plethora of brilliant British actors. But the performances are immensely outweighed by the Mise-en-scene of the entire film.
Production designer Simon Bowles is know for his intricate and period designs, and Crooked House is no exception. My hat truly does come off to the costume, art and locations departments for their outstanding work. Not only are the costume and makeup visually beautiful, they are also all iconic and seem to reference those classic who done it characters in a similar way to Cluedo. Lady Edith de Haviland's (played by Glen Close) hunting costume for example, the huge shoulder pads and no nonsense tweed teamed with a small decorative broach and prescience white blouse buttoned all the way up tell us everything we need to know about this matriarchal character in one snap shot.
Another example would be the house itself. Each member of the family lives in their own quarters, and as Detective Hayward moves throughout the rooms each space changes to reflect the person he intends to interview next.
This film is a masterclass in cinematography and visual storytelling. The actual story telling however leaves something to be desired. Nothing is overly wrong with the script, however it does become a little predictable. Half way though the nearly 2 hour feature, Josephine Leonides (played by Honor Kneafsey) comes out with a line that completely (for me anyway) spoils the whole who done it aspect of the story. This rather heavy handed clue might as well have been a full description of the killer, which totally destroys the clever cat and mouse game that Hayward plays with the killer in the second half of the film until they are revealed.
As a massive fan of Agatha Christie, her writing and iconic attitude towards life has been a huge influence on me and The White Tent Company. Although this film does her story telling justice in its beautiful visuals and brilliant acting, I can't escape the fact that the script was quite ham fisted in places and ultimately disappointing. Having said that, Crooked House is a perfect film for rainy Sunday afternoons with a cup of tea and a plate of biscuits. And perhaps I have spent too many hours watching and reading and picking apart murder mysteries to truly apricate them anymore.
If you are looking for a stimulating and challenging puzzle then you may have to look elsewhere. However, if you are looking for a masterclass in what makes a visually captivating feature for an hour or two, then Crooked House is perfect.