The book is one of the stronger later Poirot novels, some characters are developed better than others but the story is such a compelling one and it manages to be fun and suspenseful, as Agatha Christie on great form is like. There is one other adaptation of Dead Man's Folly, the Peter Ustinov TV film, for me this adaptation is the better of the two. It is darker and not quite as fun as the Ustinov adaptation, but like the book it's fun and suspenseful and the quality is higher. This adaptation is also the best so far of the 13th season of one of the greatest detective drama series there is, even better than the excellent Elephants Can Remember(which was better than the book) and much improved over The Big Four(most of that was good but the final 25-30 minutes really underwhelmed things).
Dead Man's Folly is just wonderful and almost flawless. If there was anything that brought things down it was the performance and character of the Dutch Girl Hiker, the character was like an ill-placed caricature and Francesca Zoutewelle's accent seemed forced and unnatural(even for someone who actually is Dutch). She is only in two scenes but these two scenes did stick out like a sore thumb as a consequence.
That aside, Dead Man's Folly is one of the best-looking adaptations of the later seasons(and all the Poirot adaptations are very well-made), the scenery is breathtaking, the period clothes accurate and lovely-looking and the house like an imposing character of its own. The photography as ever is great, whenever brooding like at the end and evergreen like it is for the outdoor action throughout the adaptation. The music is beautifully orchestrated and almost cinematic in sound, the muted brass may not work for some but it wasn't that obtrusive to me. The use of the old Poirot main theme tune signing off the adaptation was a lovely and quite nostalgic touch.
With the dialogue, it has always has been never less than good for this series, and here it's very thoughtfully and faithfully adapted- much of it lifted directly from the pages of the book. The humour between Poirot and Ariadne sparkles and the big scene between Poirot and Amy Folliat at the end(really refreshing to have Poirot speaking to one person explaining everything rather than a whole party) is very atmospheric, tragic and most importantly makes sense. The storytelling respects the book, in fact of the adaptations of the later seasons Dead Man's Folly is one of the more faithful ones, and keeps us guessing right up until the ingenious final solution.
Furthermore there are a lot of clues as well, and they are not too obvious either. In fact most of them came off quite subtly apart from one chance line from one character which is a strong indication of that character knowing more than they're letting on, a deliberate effect and you don't even realise it until later on. The murder hunt is not quite the centrepiece in the adaptation than it is in the book, but it is not ignored at all and is convincing.
The atmosphere, and Dead Man's Folly is very rich in atmosphere, in the final solution is dark and affecting. The very end is on the predictable side but also has its pathos, and the 1 1/2 hours just fly by while letting the mystery unfold and being able to breathe. There is only one real notable missing subplot which is with the man with the turtle shirt. This omission doesn't hurt the adaptation at all and actually if there was anything that I found not so good about the book it was that character and subplot didn't add that much. Then again that may be just me.
And the acting brings no disappointments either, bringing to life all these vast amount of somewhat peculiar characters, with the sole exception of Francesca Zoutewelle. Some might find the character of Hattie Stubbs overacted at times, but it was in keeping with the character's emotional state which came off well and the actress is very beautiful. David Suchet doesn't disappoint as Poirot, as always he is impeccable, while Zoe Wanamaker(whose Ariadne Oliver has the lion's share of the comic touches) is similarly delightful and they work so well together which will be much missed.
Sean Pertwee is very good too, my personal favourite moment of his in the adaptation is when he sits in the dark with a drink in his hands and a very hardened expression on his face, it is quite a shock and is a complete juxtaposition to what we've seen before where he was relatively charming and business-like. Sinead Cusack gives a very moving performance as Amy, and Rebecca Front excels in a different role to what has been seen from her in previous roles. Overall, a really wonderful adaptation and every bit as successful when stood on its own. Of the three 13th season episodes so far(have high hopes for Curtain, Labours of Hercules could go either way and personally there is some doubt about it working) Dead Man's Folly came off the best. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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