Agatha Christie: A Life in Pictures
Not having read a single Christie book ever,
nor even sitting through a movie based on one of her books, I must
confess the reason I chose to review this title is largely my flatmate.
He is quite a fan and so after a lot of curiosity, I decide to find out
a bit about the author through the convenience (no reading involved) of
a BBC biopic.
Writer/director Richard Curson Smith’s telemovie is
no doubt well researched and his purpose is earnest enough, but the
product is a bit musty. It could be many things, such as Olivia
Williams’ plank-like portrayal of Christie in her 30s, or the sedentary
narrative devices employed: a flashback in a psychotherapist’s room or a
press call where journalist after journalist provides the older Aggie
(the poshly-spoken Anna Massey who does a wonderful job and easily
outshines Williams) the chance for a lengthy flashback. The writing is
clunky in places too.
Perhaps the most disconcerting aspect of the whole 90
minute show is the cinematographic choice of using three distinct colour
techniques. One is standard colour, the other is a stylised faded option
and the third is an old-style B&W number. The filmmakers obviously
thought it clever to use the monochrome one for documentary feeling, the
faded one for ‘psychological insight scenes’ and the standard colour for
the ‘here and now’ scenes. It all gets a bit tiring. Maybe these are
trite concerns, but I still have a right to express them!
The heart of the story is Christie’s dozen-day
disappearance as a result of amnesia. Those around her speculate that
she’s living out one of her stories. The flashbacks also construct a
very insecure personality founded on an unclear childhood trauma
personified as a gun-caressing rough-type who is always at the boundary
of her life.
There are no special features on the disc. I don’t
recommend you buy this title unless your bookshelves are lined with
Christie books or you run a library and think you need it as a resource!
This is best watched on an ABC arts afternoon when you’re half asleep I