The first trailer for Death on the Nile, the sequel to Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express, dropped this week, so you know what that means…it’s the return of Kenneth Branagh’s ludicrous Hercule Poirot mustache! In Orient Express, Branagh’s first turn as Poirot, I compared his facial hair to a “ferret taped to his face”, but it actually looks a little more under control in Nile. At least, in the brief appearance Branagh makes, his facial hair doesn’t look quite as crazy, which is literally the only part of this trailer that shows even the slightest bit of restraint. Nile looks hilariously over the top, completely histrionic and borderline camp. And you know what? GOOD.
As a director, Branagh excels at large-scale spectacle. In his Poirot movies, he is working both sides of the camera, but his direction in Orient Express was more restricted than we’re used to seeing from him. I blamed it on the train setting, which is by definition narrow, cramped, and repetitive. Branagh tried to make his film feel bigger, but couldn’t really overcome the nature of staging a film inside a tube. Nile, however, is on a boat (a motherf-cking boat!). There’s a little more space to maneuver, and it looks like Branagh is using every inch of “deck space” afforded to his cameras. Hopefully, this translates to a livelier film.
He is also making maximum use of Gal Gadot. Good LORD does she look beautiful here. This is giving me Hedy Lamarr vibes, especially since part of Lamarr’s story is dressing to the nines on an Atlantic crossing to catch a movie studio executive’s eye and score a film contract. But while the trailer is heavy on Gadot, the movie features another star-studded cast including Rose Leslie, Letitia Wright, Armie Hammer, Russell Brand, Emma Mackey, Annette Bening, and JENNIFER SAUNDERS AND DAWN FRENCH. That’s right, FRENCH AND SAUNDERS. I realize for many people Gadot, Hammer, Bening, and Wright will be the top draws, but for me, it’s all about French and Saunders aka the legendary British sketch comedy duo. I hope they spend the entire boat ride lampooning all the histrionic guests. I guess what I really want is a French & Saunders cruise special.