Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Misery on the Orient Express

Misery loves company goes the old saw and there's a great truth to the aphorism. Most of the star-studded cast of the latest doomed version of Murder on the Orient Express (including Kenneth Branagh, who also directed, William DaFoe, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer and Judi Dench) which might have been retitled Ship of Fools, if it hadn’t taken place on the train, look miserably at ease with each other. And it has nothing to do with Agatha Christie’s backstory (the kind of murder going on in this version has to do with lousy direction and an even worse script). But the derailed train, where the mystery unfolds, is a wonderful metaphor for human foibles and frailty itself. Imagine your train being hit by an avalanche and being stranded precariously over a snow filled gorge. That’s the moment at which people come together and let down their armor. It’s almost more fun to be the victim of something than to simply be one of the competitors on the playing field of life. You know how your heart goes out to people when they’re in trouble and how much more preferable it is to be with someone who's going through something then the self-same person imperviously pursuing his or her business with a shit-eating grin on their faces. Now double that and you attain an equanimity that can only result when the chips are down for everyone. That might not have been what Agatha Christie was after when she wrote her mystery, but she couldn’t have foreseen what a lousy adaptation can do to bring actors together.

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