Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Review - "Agatha Christie's Poirot: Curtain"

This is all folks - "Curtain" marks the final episode of "Agatha Christie's Poirot," the brilliant ITV detective series which has been running for more than twenty years. It has (for the most part) been the holy grail of Agatha Christie media. But, the show had one final hurdle to overcome - adapting its finale. What with the show's penultimate episode, "The Labours of Hercules," being a tremendous let-down, did the show's conclusion improve any?

Hercule Poirot (David Suchet) is ailing and confined to a wheelchair. The detective returns to Styles, the mansion at which he solved his first case in England, which has been turned into a guest house. Poirot invites his old friend, Captain Arthur Hastings (Hugh Fraser) and Hasting's daughter, Judith, to the house as well. Upon his arrival, Hastings learns that Poirot has an a secret motive for inviting his friend - Poirot fears that a murder shall take place, and even he doesn't have any idea who the perpetrator could be. Before long, Poirot's prediction comes to fruition and soon Hercule Poirot will find himself investigating his last case.

"Curtain" was certainly an improvement over "The Labours of Hercules." This time, the episode actually felt akin to Christie and followed the plot of her novel more-or-less. In terms of plot, "Curtain" is interesting in that it feel more like a thriller than a mystery. There isn't the typical archetype of sifting through motives, suspects and alibis. In fact, most of the story is centred on the psychology of the characters, and in this way, Poirot manages to catch the perpetrator.

Yet, Agatha Christie manages to weave in one of her most surprising twist endings - which I will of course not spoil here. I never suspected the outcome to be what it was, and the adaptation certainly did the twist ending justice. I'm sure that for someone watching "Curtain" for the first time would be floored by the episode's ending.

David Suchet (seated) and Hugh Fraser
in "Curtain"
In terms of acting, special attention must be drawn to David Suchet and Hugh Fraser. The two men hardly shared any screen time in "The Big Four," so seeing them interact together for the first time since 2002 was nice. Hastings really is the episode's focal point, and we get to see new sides to the captain's character. he is perhaps more mellow than usual, but that is probably a result of the darker subject matter of the episode.

As always, David Suchet turns in a fine performance, surely one of his best. Suchet underplays most of his scenes, including a brilliantly-staged confrontation with the murderer.

The only point which "Curtain" failed on was its emotional impact. After watching the episode, I came away truly impacted by what I saw, but I did not feel saddened that A) Poirot had passed away in the episode and B) "Agatha Christie's Poirot" has come to an end. Perhaps it is merely chalked up to the way in which the ending was handled, sadly in an almost after-the-thought manner, which did not make me feel as emotionally invested as I have felt with other television finales. What's more, I would have loved for the beautiful Poirot theme to have played once last time. The television show's theme music has been used less and less recently, and I feel as though using the music would have been a nice nostalgic touch.

In all, "Curtain," was an excellent finale to "Agatha Christie's Poirot." Featuring a fine plot and acting, the episode was a nice farewell to one of the best detective shows on T.V. I give "Curtain" 4 out of 5 stars. Though "Agatha Christie's Poirot" has had its extreme ups and downs throughout the years, it will still have a place in my heart as one of the finest television programs I have come across.

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