Directed by: Craig Viveiros
Countries & Regions: United Kingdom
Studio: Acorn Media
Region: Region 2
Released: 11 January 2016
Cat No: AV3286
If you are unhappy with your purchase, you can return it to us within 30 days. More Details
And Then There Were None
Douglas Booth and Charles Dance star in this three-part BBC adaptation of the classic crime novel by Agatha Christie. When ten strangers... Read More
Whatever inscrutable agency has brought them there seems determined to pick them off them one by one to avenge their past wrongdoings. For despite a delicate veneer of respectability, each of the eight guests and two servants is accused of having been involved in at least one murder.
As the death toll mounts – each slaying mirroring the next line in a popular nursery rhyme framed on the wall of every room – suspicion, recrimination and uneasy alliances ripple through the group. Is the murderer among them, or is an unseen villain roaming this desolate rock? Which of them would have a motive to bring off such a fiendishly convoluted bloodbath?
Aidan Turner’s remorseless mercenary Philip Lombard is surely too transparently self-serving to go to the bother; Charles Dance’s retired judge too decent and honest; Maeve Dermody’s reticent governess too wholesome; Miranda Richardson’s devout spinster too scatty… but all these folks truly have a murder in their locker, how can any of them be trusted?
The tension of the conundrum is finely calibrated in Sarah Phelps’ clever script; and the denouement carries a satisfying twist – especially if the viewer dimly recalls previous adaptations that end on a lighter note. While keeping to the polite and stagy side of grisly, this is about as brutal as Christie ever gets, and what makes it all the more pleasurable is that there is no Poirot or Miss Marple on hand to reassure the houseguests and resolve the puzzle.
Phelps also adds raunch and debauchery with post-watershed sweariness, drug-taking and a wild bacchanal fuelled by sexual tension that predictably had the likes of the Mail on Sunday up in arms even before the series was broadcast; but Phelps insists she remained faithful to Agatha Christie’s intentions. After a careful reading of the novel, she declared, “I found it shocking how cold it was – the brutal nature of justice. Justice is coming, and justice will be served.” This is no simple whodunit, but a complex and open-ended study of the psychology of the guilty.
Reading around the production reveals further surprises, as it turns out that Cornwall’s uninhabited Mullion Island and a CGI’d Harefield House in Hillingdon combine to reinterpret Devon’s Burgh Island Hotel, the setting that inspired the original novel and where Christie was a frequent guest. But as with the plot, the viewer doesn't see the join, and the escapist riddling and brooding backdrop are unstintingly captivating.