This three-part BBC miniseries adaptation is both the most faithful and effective cinematic version of Agatha Christie’s legendary whodunit that I’ve seen. Some of the book’s elements are re-interpreted to fit the medium but otherwise, most things remain the same: Director Craig Viveiros manages to establish an oppressive atmosphere via a variety of deliberately selected elements (like its secluded island setting, the angry sea surrounding it, the constant cloudiness and threat of dangerous weather, etc) before the plot even gets under way, and by the time the bodies start dropping, the tone is already unbearably tense. Additionally, there’s a magnificent cast that captures each character’s essence remarkably well without needing unnecessary expository dialogue or forced interactions to establish dynamics: Among the many stand-outs are Noah Taylor, whose Mr. Rogers is strikingly intense here, and an agitated Toby Stephens, who injects his Doctor Armstrong with an unsettled energy constantly threatening to erupt. By the time the climax arrives and adheres closely to the literary output for the first time in a cinematic adaptation of Christie’s novel, it becomes clear that the miniseries works not only as an effective adaptation but as a well-developed, written and acted narrative unto itself as well.
Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)