**Warning: Spoilers for both book and movie!**
Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie (1937)
Death on the Nile directed by Kenneth Branagh (2022)
This episode focuses on the newly released movie, but there is also an adaptation from the ‘70’s! I don’t know if people are as interested in hearing about that one-but if you do want to hear me talk about it in a separate episode (like how I did a separate episode for the 1947 Nightmare Alley) comment down below! If people want it, I’ll watch that movie and let you know how it compares!
Thoughts on the book
I read a lot of Agatha Christie in my late teens and remember this one as having been one of my favorites. Reading it this time around I vaguely remembered part of the plot yet even so, I was questioning myself and unsure of who the murderer was and had a lot of fun with the book. Christie is such a great detective writer and Hercule Poirot is her most famous character. Her books don’t tend to be deep, and characters aren’t especially complex (especially not Poirot), but really her books are good ol’ fashioned mysteries. And I love them! Sometimes I don’t want a book with these complex themes and flawed, human characters. Not that her books don’t have that to some extent. But you get what I’m saying. At their core, they are fun books and the crimes are so thoughtfully crafted. I don’t think I’ve ever read a Christie novel where I was able to guess the killer! At least not until closer to the end. (Unlike my complaint with The Snowman where I guessed the killer right from the start.)
Linnet Ridgeway is a smart, beautiful, and extremely wealthy 20 year old. Her friend, Jackie falls in love with Simon Doyle. Jackie and Simon are both poor (Jackie’s family having lost their fortune, but nonetheless has never asked for money from Linnet and truly seems not to care much for wealth). Simon doesn’t have a job though, so she asks Linnet if she could hire Simon to manage Linnet’s estate, which she does. Linnet sees how truly in love Jackie is, then meets Simon who is handsome and Linnet feels jealous of Jackie.
We cut ahead, and see that Linnet and Simon are married and honeymooning in Egypt. Jackie has followed them and is tormenting them with her vindictive presence.
One night, Jackie gets drunk and shoots Simon in the leg. She becomes hysterical and is watched by a nurse for the night and Simon is attended to by a doctor. During the night, Linnet is shot and Jackie is framed. However, it couldn’t have been Jackie because she has a solid alibi.
Linnet’s expensive necklace is also stolen that same night and as Poirot tries to find the killer, Linnet’s personal maid is also killed, then another passenger who is about to reveal the killer is also shot before they can say who it is.
This is the second Kenneth Branagh Poirot mystery, the first being Murder on the Orient Express (which I still haven’t seen! But I will cover it here at some point, maybe even this year. By the way, I have done a book vs movie for Crooked House which is another Christie novel though it isn’t with Poirot.) Branagh directed the movie, plus plays Poirot.
I heard a reviewers say the movie took too long setting things up, because the murder doesn’t happen till halfway. The book was the same, Linnet doesn’t die til the halfway point. This didn’t bother me in the book, and I expected it going into the movie so I wasn’t bothered by that.
I have been awaiting this movie for years! It was going to be released in 2019 but there were delays in filming. Then it was so be released in spring of 2020 but we all know what happened then. It was pushed to 2021, then was pushed again because of the drama around Armie Hammer. They didn’t reshoot with a different actor but hoped that giving the audience some time for the accusations to mellow would help its box office.
By the way, the Hammer stuff was some woman who claimed he was abusive and that he said weird stuff like messaging them he wanted to drink their blood. I was a big Hammer fan previously, but this is pretty off putting to say the least!
Kenneth Branagh is wonderful as Hercule Poirot.
Tom Bateman is Bouc, who is a fun character.
Gal Gadot is perfectly cast as Linnet.
Armie Hammer is also well cast as Simon Doyle.
Letitia Wright as Rosalie Otterbourne.
Sophie Okonedo is Salome Otterbourne.
Emma Mackey is excellent as Jaqueline de Bellfort.
Annette Benning is the lovingly controlling mother, Louise Bouc.
Russel Brand is Windlesham, who actually doesn’t really have any comedic lines in this.
I have read several Poirot books, but it was a long time ago now. I could be wrong, but I don’t recall any going into Poirot’s past. He has personality, but is just a clever, funny detective. And I have no qualms with this!
Here though, we do get more into Poirot as a person. I can’t help but think this is in part due to the fact that the man playing Poirot is also directing and he wants to have more to the character he is playing. Whether it is for Branagh’s ego or not, ultimately I found the beginning unnecessary. The first ten minutes we see Poirot in World War I and get a look into his first love as well as the reason for his mustache. He was badly injured around his mouth and his fiancée said essentially, no bother-just grow as mustache.
During the film we see him show interest in Salome Otterbourne and in the end, he has shaved his mustache and is at a rehearsal of her show. He has moved on from the pain of his first love and has even shaved off the mustache she had suggested. This is also represents how he is allowing himself to be vulnerable and more “human” for Salome.
A friend of his is also one of the victims. The character Bouc, who was not in the book, is the last to die. Apparently, Bouc is from Murder on the Orient Express, which makes the two movies even more connected than I had realized they would be. But anyway, with the death of Bouc, Poirot shows more sadness than I have ever seen him show in the books.
In the book, Poirot shows emotion in certain ways, but no one he is close to dies and he doesn’t fall in love and in general just doesn’t show the emotion the Poirot does in the movie.
The Wedding Part Guests
In the movie, all of the suspects are part of the wedding part of Simon and Linnet. Aside from Jackie who gets on board when everyone else is sightseeing.
In the book, they are almost all strangers who simply happen to be on the same ship.
The character of Bouc is there with his mother, and in the book this character was named Tim Allerton who was traveling with his mother; neither of whom personally knew Poirot. In the book Tim does fall in love with Rosaline Otterbourne, as shown in the movie. However, they hadn’t met prior to Egypt and fall in love while on this vacation. Tim does not die in the book, and the two of them are together in the end. His mother also was not against him marrying, as she was in the movie.
Rosalie in the book is the daughter of a famous author of trashy sex novels. However, book sales have not been doing well and Salome Otterbourne has become an alcoholic. In the movie, Salmone was a successful singer and Rosalie is her niece and manager. The movie had a side plot where it was revealed Bouc mom hired Poirot to investigate into Rosalie, to prove to Bouc she isn’t good enough to marry. Poirot sees that Rosalie and her aunt are both wonderful, honest people and tells the mother they would make a good match. Rosalie dislikes Poirot because of this. In the book, Rosalie can be a bit prickly towards people, and towards Poirot when he interviews her. We see that the reason she is this way is because she is dealing with the struggle of her mother’s alchoholism and is trying to keep people from realizing this, and keep her mother from embarrassing them.
We have Andrew Katchadourian who has been using Linnet’s money to cover his own things, which was in both book and movie and each have the document signing scene. In the book there was second accountant type person as well, which was just one more person to suspect. I was fine with the movie trimming down the suspects. But in book and movie, Andrew tries to push a boulder on Linnet and kill her but does not succeed.
The book and movie have Miss Van Schuyler and her nurse Bowers with her. In the movie it is revealed that they are actually lovers, but travel as nurse because back then it wasn’t approved of. The book also had a secret reason why Van Schuyler had a nurse-but I will reveal that a little later.
In the book there is a doctor on board-Dr. Besser. In the movie, it is Dr. Windlesham who was previously engaged to Linnet. There is a Windlesham in the book, but he is not part of the group involved in the murder. In the book, Dr. Besser ends up becoming engaged to a character who is not in the movie-the cousin of Miss Van Schuyler. So, there are two new romances in the book that both lead to engagements by the end. Nothing like murder to bring people together!
Louisa is the maid, and the story with her is similar in book and movie. Linnet’s previous maid in the book had been engaged to a man, but in the book Linnet did some digging and learned he was already married and so the maid had to call the wedding off. She no longer has that same maid, but it is revealed the man who wanted to marry the maid happens to work on the ship and therefore is a suspect. In the movie, they had this be the story of Louisa, except is wasn’t that her fiancé was a bigamist. Instead, to test if he really loved her, Linnet offered to pay his many debts if he dumped the maid. He took the money, and Linnet felt she did her maid a favor by showing his true colors but of course this caused Louisa to also have a reason to be a suspect.
In book and movie, Louisa sees who the killer is, blackmails the killer, and ends up being the second death. This was clever in both book and movie because the way she tells Simon she knows it was him by alluding to it in her interview with Poirot which Simon is sitting in on.
The Missing Necklace
In both, along with Linnet being killed, we learn her necklace has been stolen. In the book, we learn that Tim is partners with a woman named Joanna where they steal expensive jewelry and replace it with a fake so that it goes unnoticed at least for a bit. The pearls are missing in the book, but then nurse Bowers returns them. We learn that Miss Van Schuyler is a kleptomaniac and can’t control stealing things from time to time. She steals the pearls, Bowers finds them, and is waiting for the proper time to return them. However, we find out the returned pearls are fake. But his is why Bowers is Van Schuyler’s maid, to keep an eye on her stealing and to make sure things are returned.
We learn though that Tim has the real pearls, which he turns in and Poirot promises to let him go if he keeps his word to stop.
In the movie, Bouc-the Tim equivalent-stole the necklace so that he would have enough money to marry Rosalie without his mother’s money. When he is going to return them, he sees the maid get murdered. Poirot then interviews him and before he can reveal who he saw kill the maid, he himself is killed.
In the book, Salome Otterbourne sees who killed the maid (she had been below deck to get alcohol from someone who worked on the ship), but as in the movie, is shot right before she reveals who it was.
Simon and Jackie
The plot of kill Linnet is formed by Simon and Jackie and how they go about it is the same in both. I remember reading this for the first time and being blown away by the reveal. In the movie, it seemed too obvious. And this wasn’t just me thinking so because I had read the book. I saw this with two sisters who hadn’t read the book and part way through my sister leans in and whispers-Simon and Jackie did it. It was just too obvious when Simon was so insistent to stay when Linnet wanted to go home to get away from Jackie. In the book, I fell for the story of him loving Linnet instead and Jackie being the spurned lover. Then when she shoots him in the leg, they both had such solid alibies! Clearly, even if they were in on it, there was someone else as well because it appeared neither of them had killed Linnet.
In the book, the killer made it very obvious they were framing Jackie, which led you suspect Jackie even less! Whereas in the movie, having Jackie be framed wasn’t really part of the story.
The book also tells us more behind their plan. Simon started worked for Linnet and she was into him but he was not at all interested in her and found her bossy. He wanted to live a comfortable life with money though, and Jackie loved him too much and wanted to provide him with what he wanted. He was trying to hatch a plan, but Jackie could see he wasn’t clever enough, so she comes up with the whole idea.
In both book and movie, Jackie kills Simon and then herself. This is done very dramatically in the movie, where the bullet goes through Simon’s chest and then her own. In the book she does it separately.
In book and movie, Poirot tries to convince Jackie to stop stalking Simon and Linnet and to not let evil into her heart. When all is revealed, she tells Poirot, “…It’s so dreadfully easy-killing people. And you begin to feel that it doesn’t matter…it’s only you that matters! It’s dangerous-that…You did your best for me, you know. That night at Assaun-you told me not open my heart to evil…I could have stopped then, you know. I nearly did…” But ulitatley she loved Simon in a dangerous way and wanted him to have what he wanted, money and a lavish life.
Book or Movie
I thought this movie was a fun murder mystery, and the consume design was superb. There is some obvious green screen which was pretty distracting when in Egypt, this didn’t ruin the movie for me though. I wasn’t a fan of adding more to the character of Poirot, but again, I didn’t hate it either. Ultimately, what makes me say the book wins, is that it seemed too obvious the Simon was the murderer! I still think the shooting his own leg part is genius on Christie’s part, but even if someone doesn’t guess the specifics, the movie makes it a bit too obvious that he and Jackie are in it together.
But it is a fun movie and I liked the acting and if you like the book I would recommend the movie. The book does win though in the end.