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5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Poor film that puts more effort into creating a ridiculous air of tension and mystery than it does being a good documentary

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
25 April 2007

Shown recently as part of an ITV3 season of films to do with Agatha Christie I really shouldn't be surprised by the quality of this documentary because this is the same channel that has given us the mostly terrible Marple series of films. The title is the first clue that this is a desperately populist film that is more about trying to liven it up than it is do a good job as a documentary. Thus we have three experts made to sit in a darkened room pretending to work on computers while a woman brings them files. It is a silly effect and it does feel rather pointless.

There is some value in the computer analysis of Christie's writing style but dressing it all up like this just devalues it because it is all a bit, well, "w*nky"! The contributors do mostly talk about the subject in knowledgeable and interesting but the film never lets it get away from being presented as something all very mysterious and special that requires people in dark rooms working with computers to get to the bottom of it. This leaves the film exposed because the material isn't there to support this approach and I must admit that it all ended up feeling a bit silly. It would have been much better to have presented a straight documentary on Christie's style and leave out all the nonsense in the presentation and delivery.

It doesn't help that Lumley narrates as if she was doing a documentary on the most shadowy, sinister and important period of history – she is a big part of the film leaning this way. A poor documentary then that puts more effort into creating a ridiculous air of tension and mystery rather than just delivering an interesting discussion of the style and popularity of Christie's writing.

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