Agatha

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The premise is superb: the (real) mystery of Agatha Christie's ten-day disappearance in 1926, during the much-reported disintegration of her marriage. The film, though, only partly fulfills its promise, despite a sensitive script and Vanessa Redgrave's excellent, introverted performance. Period re-creation - of the hotels, railway stations, dress - is almost too perfect, with production values tending to distract attention from the situation's intrinsic interest; and a brooding plotline is weakened by slapstick secondary characters and by Hoffman's jaunty pastiche of a performance as an arrogant American newspaperman who finds and falls in love with Agatha in the spa town of Harrogate. Though undercut by a last scene redolent of Brief Encounter, the brilliant, suspended twist in the central story - with its ingenious perception that one may write murder 'stories' to stave off the prospect of one's own death - remains memorable.

Release details

Duration: 105 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Michael Apted
Screenwriter: Kathleen Tynan, Arthur Hopcraft
Cast: Dustin Hoffman
Vanessa Redgrave
Timothy Dalton
Helen Morse
Celia Gregory
Timothy West
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