While spending the weekend at his cottage outside London, Hercule Poirot is invited to dinner by Sir Henry and Lady Angkatell. Leaving immediately after dinner, he returns the next day to find that a weekend guest, John Christo, has been shot dead. There is any number of suspects: his former lover, Veronica Cray whom he had not seen for 12 years but suddenly turned up at a nearby cottage; his wife, Gerda who was deeply hurt by his womanizing; his current mistress Henrietta Savernake; Midge Hardcastle, who was very much in love with him, but whom he constantly ignored; and Edward Angkatell, who was in love with Midge. What Poirot finds however is that the evidence equally implicates everyone just a little too equally for it all to be just by chance. Written by
When Henrietta doodles, she always sketches a stylized tree that she calls Yggdrasil. In Norse mythology, Yggdrasil is a giant ash tree that represents Viking cosmology, with the branches standing for different parallel worlds. "Heaven" is at the top and Hel is at the bottom. The world we experience is on one of the middle branches. See more »
Engaging mystery...but don't choose this one to show the children!
I've been a fan of the Poirot series and David Suchet since my late-elementary school days in the early 1990s, when PBS ran the hour-long short stories (and then the two-hour novel adaptations) on "Mystery!" On top of its stylish production values that take us back to an eye-pleasing Britain from yesteryear -- from Art Deco-influenced London to the undeveloped pastoral countryside -- the series has presented the stories of Agatha Christie in a suspenseful, dramatic manner, with a bit of humor to boot. Christie at her best makes for a gripping mystery show, and I looked forward to watching the fussy Belgian's exploits with my parents on Sunday evenings. As the A&E network began hosting new productions in the 21st century and putting them on DVD, I have eagerly kept my eye on Poirot and his investigations. Not all of the A&E shows have been perfect (as my comment for "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd" argues, one at least was bad), but I've been pleasantly surprised by most of them.
It was "Poirot" that led me to start reading Christie books on my own. Years of Christie-reading showed me how the Dame could be a peerless crafter of whodunits...and, for some stories, an uninspiring writer. But the Suchet series has generally made the most of weaker Christie offerings as well.
"The Hollow" falls into the latter category. When I finished the book some years ago, I was left with an unsatisfied feeling. There were a few good supporting characters and ideas of some potential, but the slim mystery was overshadowed by the adultery melodrama padding out the majority of the book's pages. Yet A&E's version of "The Hollow" is largely successful, turning a poorer Christie book into a decent, engaging movie. Sure, some of the melodrama has carried over -- Veronica Cray's outburst is very much at home in made-for-TV land -- but the filmmakers have streamlined the fat book in a way that gets the points across while leaving the viewer charmed by the carefully-photographed lush hills, expensively-decorated mansions, etc. You'll find a top-notch cast on board, too, featuring Sarah Miles, who captures scatter-brained eccentric Lady Angkatell perfectly...Megan Dodds, whose psychological jousting with Poirot is intriguing...the redoubtable Edward Fox as quintessential butler Gudgeon...and Dr. Watson himself, Edward Hardwicke!
Yet the filmmakers disappointed me with the inclusion of a graphic R-rated sex scene toward the end. This was a first for "Poirot", which has never been about tawdry sexual gratuitousness, and could be depended on to deliver TV shows that you could feel comfortable showing to the young Christie fans and mystery readers out there. A bad mistake by the filmmakers, who otherwise remain faithful to the TV series' universe.
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