Telefilm Review: The Murder of Roger Akroyd

Four years after the end of the sixth series of Poirot, the mysteries returned for a seventh series with David Suchet. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd begins with Poirot in blissful retirement in the country as he focuses on his gardening.

However, a baffling murder brings him out to investigate the buried secrets of a small town.

As usual with Poirot stories, the mystery’s not a problem, nor is the acting by the lead. The fundamental problem with this play is dramatic. Here, I try not to give away the game to anyone unfamiliar with the story. The Murder of Roger Akroyd much Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, is noted for an unusual twist solution that’s actually quite shocking in the annals of detective fiction.

The ending works great in a book or in a well-done radio adaptation like Orson Welles’ Campbell playhouse version, however it’s understandably difficult to pull off in a cinematic way.  But, what they tried to do instead failed with a gratuitous chase scene to resolve the story just didn’t  feel right.  The film also suffered somewhat from the decision to include the Poirot family of actors even if it really didn’t work for capturing the spirit of the book.

In addition, the story had a somewhat maudlin, overly sentimental feel to it. To be fair, I wasn’t following the Poirot series in 2000 and maybe fans appreciated it back then, but it doesn’t age well.

It’s a weak entry and a bumpy start to the second half of the Poirot mysteries.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.0

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