Recovering from the horrors of World War I, British Army officer Arthur Hastings hopes to find peace and quiet at a country manor in the English countryside. But when the matriarch dies during the night from strychnine poisoning, Hastings enlists the help of an old friend staying nearby with other war refugees to help solve the murder: former Belgian police detective Hercule Poirot. Written by
The Mysterious Affair at Styles(the book to introduce the quintessential detective) is not my favourite Agatha Christie novel, but it was a great read with memorable characters, fine atmosphere and a carefully-constructed plot. This adaptation of the book is not my favourite episode of the wonderful Agatha Christie:Poirot series, but it is ever bit as compelling as the book and more.
The characters are still memorable, Poirot is still the clever and eccentric detective we know and love, Hastings is appropriately naive and Japp is still amusing. Supporting cast wise, Albert especially is very shifty. The plot is very clever and careful, with the odd logical lapse, and sticks fairly faithfully to that of the book. And the atmosphere is also there, not haunting as it is in Hickory Dickory Dock, One, Two, Buckle My Buckle or The ABC Murders, but a lot of scenes left an impression, especially Emily Inglethorp's death scene and the final solution.
On its own terms, The Mysterious Affair at Styles works wonders. The adaptation is shot in a very sumptuous visual style with interesting camera-angles, luxurious costumes and breathtaking scenery and evoking of the period. The music is not the best there is in these adaptations, but it is still beautiful and haunting as it should be, the dialogue is thoughtful and intelligent with the odd spot of humour and the direction is very well done making this episode I feel one of the better-directed early episodes.
The cast are also magnificent. David Suchet is an outstanding Poirot and nails everything about the detective down to the appearance, accent and mannerisms. Hugh Fraser gives one of his better performances of the series and Phillip Jackson is a joy. The supporting cast are high-calibre across the board, with Michael Cronin, Robert Calf and Gillian Barge particularly standing out.
In conclusion, a fine adaptation and one of my favourites of the series. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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