15. Bonus Watching: And Then There Were None (2015)
List Progress: 8/12 (+3)
Between watching 12 Angry Men the other week, and reading the Agatha Christie novel The Murder of Roger Ackroyd recently, I have apparently been on a crime fiction spree. The 2015 mini-series adaptation of the Christie novel And Then There Were None is another addition to this spree, and a superb one. Agatha Christie is the codifier for a number of crime and detective tropes that exist to this day, and while the impersonators have varied in quality over the decades, she was excellent at what she did.
And Then There Were None tells the story of ten people who are invited to an isolated island and accused by their mysterious unseen host of each committing a murder in their own. This host then proceeds to pick them off one by one in gruesome ways based on a grim children’s poem. The remaining survivors must try to stay alive amidst growing paranoia of everyone around them, as well as reckoning with their own dredged-up guilt for their past crimes. It’s a tense psychological set-up and creates some brilliant suspense.
This adaptation builds on Christie’s groundwork beautifully. The cast is stacked with excellent UK actors each giving depth to characters that start as tropes and evolve into nuanced people as their mental states devolve. It is very much an ensemble cast, with Maeve Dermody as disgraced former nanny Claythorne and Aidan Turner as soldier-of-fortune Lombard lightly centering the narrative. (On a shallow note, Aidan Turner is played for dangerous seductive sex appeal and the camera, and I, love him.) All the actors do wonderful jobs.
The scenery is gorgeous, all foreboding cliffs and empty horizons, and the costuming is high class for a period piece while still feeling lived-in. The tone of the mini-series as a whole starts a bit campy and dramatic, but that is largely to set audience expectations and get you used to it before the bodies start dropping. The mini-series is made up of three episodes and totaling 177 minutes, but my friend and I were so wrapped in that we watched it through like a film, it was that engrossing.
And Then There Were None follows the book quite closely, so if you have read the novel, as I have, you will know the destination, but the journey is absolutely worth it. My friend did not have any spoilers going in, so she got to see this nightmare island wind its tale for the first time. Both knowledgeable viewer and new, we enjoyed every minute of it.
Would I Recommend It: Oh yes!
(Note: I could technically fit this into my “foreign film” category, but I am making an effort to not count UK films for that one, as I watch a fair amount of British content as is.)