In 1933, Hercule Poirot (John Malkovich) receives taunting letters from the signature ”A.B.C.”… and then the murders begin. The fourth Agatha Christie adaptation by Sarah Phelps shows the latter at her best – capturing the thrills and essence of the original stories, but challenging us by making interesting changes. What will raise the eyebrows of Poirot fans here is not only the unusual casting of Malkovich (who’s very good), but the brand new background story that has been invented for the Belgian detective, with ties to World War I atrocities. Elaborately staged, like the three predecessors; tension runs high, and it’s fun watching Rupert Grint as a cocky young cop.
2018-Britain. Made for TV. 169 min. Color. Produced by Farah Abushwesha. Directed by Alex Gabassi. Teleplay: Sarah Phelps. Novel: Agatha Christie. Cast: John Malkovich (Hercule Poirot), Rupert Grint (Crome), Andrew Buchan (Franklin Clarke), Eamon Farren, Jack Farthing, Gregor Fisher.
Trivia: Originally shown in either two, three or four parts. Phelps’s Christie adaptations began with And Then There Were None (2015).
Last word: “I have always wanted to do something that made you feel you were looking at the world from an outsider’s point of view. Hercule is étranger (a stranger), he is a stranger in a strange land, an outsider, he is not born here and English is not his first language. Alex comes from São Paulo in Brazil and his first language isn’t English, his first language is Portuguese and so he hears with a very specific ear and he speaks English with the precision that people speak English when it’s not their first language. We’re so habituated to this language, but Alex speaks with a great deal of precision and he thinks about things very hard and he looks at things in a way that we have forgotten to look at them because we see them every day, which is how Hercule looks at everything.” (Phelps, BBC)