Poirot is visited by a distraught girl, Norma Restarick, who fears she may have killed someone but runs away, telling him that he's too old rather than explaining further. By coincidence, Poirot's friend Ariadne Oliver lives in the same apartment block as Norma and her two roommates and recently went to their party, where Norma was distressed when she was offered ice cream. Norma's ex-nanny, Miss Lavinia Seagram, an alcoholic, also lived in the block but was recently found dead, with the verdict being suicide. Ariadne is unconvinced and searches the nanny's apartment, finding a clue which she puts in her handbag. Soon afterward she is attacked and the bag and its contents are stolen. Poirot visits the Restarick family home in the country, owned by Norma's great-uncle, Sir Roderick, an elderly and half-blind man who is dependent upon Sonia, his young personal assistant (who may well be a gold-digger). Andrew Restarick, Norma's father, explains to Poirot that he spent much of Norma's ... Written by
don @ minifie-1
S11E3: Third Girl: Comes together in the end, but the structure worked against me although the involvement of Wanamaker's Oliver livens it up
Norma Restarick is the third girl in a flat sharing arrangement, and she comes to the attention of Poirot when she comes looking for help with a murder she committed although she leaves before she can elaborate. Turns out the contact came via friend Ariadne Oliver, who fills in some of the details from a party she attended in the girl's flat the night that Norma found herself standing over the body of a former nanny (who lives in the same block), with a knife in her hands. Although it appears a suicide, Norma's confession is puzzling, and Poirot begins to look into the proceedings.
Third Girl comes after the very enjoyable episode of Cat Among the Pigeons, which has great color and structure to it, making a satisfying mystery. Perhaps following one so closely from the other did not help this film by comparison, because it was the structure of the telling of this one that limited me. I should be more flexible maybe, but the way that the story unfolds rather distracted me because there seemed to be too much going on that felt detached from other things so I ended up wondering what thread to following, what is the connection, and is there even a connection to begin with? Perhaps this was me, but at times I struggled to follow the connections particularly where they really amounted to nothing. This is not usual to have dead ends or red herrings, but here I thought the delivery did not keep me close to the core but rather made it hard to see where the core was. Towards the end it does come together well, although due to the delivery it doesn't always link back quite as neatly and satisfyingly as I would have liked, but it does still work as a finale.
The delivery as a production is hard to fault because it looks great; the sense of time and place is very well done, and the cinematography and direction are very classy and precise no distracting soft focus or fuzzy presentation here. The cast match this; Suchet not only doing good work (with very convincing rage towards the end) but also working well again with Wanamaker. I confess I miss the characters of Hastings, Japp, and Lemon, but it is hard to actually feel their absence when the films delivery good leads and some good supporting turns such as Oliver. Rooper works her character well, despite how variable and unstable she is; Burton-Hill, Sturridge, Liemann, and Mison are all good in support, while Bowles provides the bigger name cameo.
Third Girl is not a weak film in the season it is far too professionally produced for that, but it does have issues in the construction of the narrative that really work against me getting drawn into it. In the end it all comes together and produces an engaging resolution, but not quite as satisfying as the ones that make you realize all of the clues were right there in front of us all along.
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