Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s novels, including “Death on the Nile” and its prequel, dives deep into Poirot’s personality over the story itself. While this is a good approach for a classic that has had several adaptations in the past, Poirot’s origin story in the film is dissimilar from the novel (but not his personality). Likewise, the story deviates from the original plot, introduces a few new elements, and eliminates others.
The actors did a commendable job of impersonating their characters. Unfortunately, 20th Century Fox had to edit several scenes from the original recorded film due to a recent controversy with an actor. The fine cinematography, visual appeal, and music immediately put one in the 1940’s mood. But does the film do justice to its much-beloved prequel (Murder on the Orient Express) and Christie’s original work? Does the film match the expectations set by its trailer? Read till the end to find out.
‘Death on the Nile’ Plot Summary
Renowned detective Hercule Poirot is off on a relaxing retreat to Egypt, where he meets his friend Monsieur Bouc. He offers Poirot to join him and his mother at his friend’s post-wedding celebration. Poirot arrives at the hotel and recognizes the newly married hosts: Linnet Ridgeway and Simon Doyle. Six weeks ago, he had seen Simon Doyle with his fiance Jacqueline at a nightclub. Jacqueline had introduced her fiance to her best friend: Linnet. Poirot scoffs at how love took its turn in a short period. Bouc introduces Poirot to all the passengers on the cruise:
- Salome and Rosalie Otterbourne (Bouc’s love interest)
- Ms Marie Van Schuyler and her maid Ms Bowers
- Louise Bourget (Linnet’s maid)
- Dr Windlesham (Linnet’s ex-fiance)
- Andrew Katchadourian (Linnet’s cousin)
- Mrs. Bouc (Monsieur Bianchi Bouc’s mother)
- And the uninvited guest who made a sudden appearance: Jacqueline De Bellefort
After Jacqueline’s surprising arrival, Linnet and Simon seek protection from Poirot, saying that they are uncomfortable with her relentless stalking. Hesitantly, Poirot agrees. Even when Simon moves the party to the steamboat Karnak, Jacqueline reaches there. One night, after a heated row with Simon at the bar, she impulsively shoots him in the leg. Rosalie escorts an anxious Jacqueline to Miss Bowers’ room while Bouc calls Dr. Windlesham to treat Simon. While everyone believes that things are under control, little do they know about what will follow. The morning after, on the way to her mistress’s room, Louise finds Linnet’s corpse, shot in her sleep!
Major Spoilers Ahead
‘Death On The Nile’ Ending Explained
Poirot is very empathetic towards Jacqueline’s love for Simon. He, too, had fallen deeply in love with a girl named Katherine, who had accepted him with his war scars. The grief of her untimely demise led Poirot to become a detective. While Jacqueline is the most obvious suspect for the murder, she has a strong alibi. Poirot knows that Linnet trusted no one on the boat, hence, making everyone a suspect! Her servant, Louise, has been particularly suspicious since she discovered the body. However, this suspicion does not last long as her throat-slit corpse is found on the steamer.
While putting the pieces of the mystery together, Poirot exposes several passengers:
- Miss Bowers is not a servant but a friend of Miss Van Schuyler, who was stripped of her wealth by the Ridgeways.
- Andrew Katchadourian has consistently urged Linnet to sign some questionable documents. He has also attempted to kill Linnet and Simon by pushing a boulder down on them, but in vain.
- Lousie Bourget was bribed to stay put as she had seen the killer.
- Bouc has stolen Linnet’s precious necklace on seeing her corpse.
Unfortunately, when Monsieur Bouc is about to expose the murderer to Poirot, he gets shot. Unable to fathom the loss of his friend and his failure to prevent the murders, Poirot confronts all the passengers. He confirms that Simon Doyle is the one who killed Linnet and has always seen her as a golden goose for his materialist needs. His one true love, Jacqueline De Bellefort, is devoted to him to the extent that she becomes the mastermind of their crime! To quiet the witnesses, she killed Louise and Bouc. Having been exposed by Poirot, Jacqueline takes a gun and shoots Simon and herself. Finally, she finally executes the romantic ending she had always wished to have with Simon.
Linnet always knew that Jacqueline was her only friend who was never after her money. Nonetheless, what makes her more dangerous than the others is her being blind-sighted by fanatic love, a trait that Poirot observes when he sees her at the nightclub. Without Jacqueline’s genius and devotedness, Simon could never have been able to execute a crime this brilliant that even left Poirot helpless. She knew that the materialistic and weak-hearted Simon could never live through the consequences of his crime. Hence, she liberated him from it.
Despite being extremely rich, Linnet Ridgeway has always been distressed and insecure as long as she has lived. Though she flaunted her wealth on the surface, she feels guilty for stealing people’s happiness. She disapproves of Rosalie’s race, is unsupportive of Louise’s personal pleasures, lives off Ms. Bowers’ family wealth, and steals the fiancé of her best friend. Like many cases Poirot comes across, in this case, the victim’s death is a result of their Karma.
After solving the case of ‘The Death on the Nile’, Poirot uses his late friend Bouc’s advice to take a break from solving cases and live his life. The film ends with Poirot sitting at Salome Otterbourne’s music show three months later, without his mustache, revealing his war scar.
In the modern adaptation of any classic, a few tweaks in the plot for the purpose of making the film palatable can always be appreciated. However, in “Death on the Nile”, the makers clearly went overboard with that. The film tries to accommodate a long story with some extra additions in two hours. Hence, it is abruptly fast-paced, refusing the audience to savor the story or do their share of the sleuthing. The film has too many edits that prohibit it from achieving the appreciation it could have.
Nonetheless, what fails to disappoint is Kenneth Branagh’s spot-on Poirot impersonation and the excellent performances by every actor. These factors qualify the film as a decent one-time watch.
“Death on the Nile” is a 2022 Drama Thriller film directed by Kenneth Branagh.