And Then There Were None Review.
A Two-Part Miniseries
Air dates: Sunday, March 13 – Monday, March 14, 2016 on Lifetime.
And Then There Were None is a brilliantly orchestrated and superbly acted cinematic adventure. Based on Agatha Christie’s novel of the same name, her tale comes to vivid life on the small screen. The hauntingly beautiful score humming in the background lends an eerie vibe throughout the series. Originally airing on BBC One in the UK December 26, 2015, And Then There Were None is a co-production for BBC One and Lifetime. Written and executive produced by Sarah Phelps, I must commend her adaptation of the source material, as well as give a nod to casting director Karen Lindsay-Stewart. The words Phelps scripted come to life with such vigor and eloquence because of the outstanding cast.
Many of Christie’s novels have been made into television productions or films, such as “Death on the Nile” and “Murder on the Orient Express,” but “And Then There Were None” is one of Christie’s most adapted and imitated works. In reading the book, which I’ve done several times, I always find something I overlooked in the first and previous passes. The delicately woven plot becomes so intricately deceiving, you aren’t sure if any of the characters are redeemable.
The way this particular incarnation of “And Then There Were None” is done blows me away. The acting, the set design, the costumes, everything down to the sound editing is magnificent. In watching both installments of the two-night miniseries, I found myself beyond captivated; I felt as though I were a fly on the wall inside the luxurious hilltop mansion on the lonely “Soldier Island.” The camera angles and movement as it follows a character through a corridor make you feel as though you are right there.
Set in 1939 England, ten strangers are invited separately by the mysteriously absent couple U.N. and U.N.A. Owen to go to Soldier Island off the Devon Coast for one reason or another. Everyone, down to the employment service, is contacted by letter. Vera Claythorne (Maeve Dermody) is hired as the Owens’ secretary; former Detective William Blore (Burn Gorman) is retained as private security; and Mr. and Mrs. Rogers (Noah Taylor and Anna Maxwell-Martin) are the butler and maid/cook, respectively. The other enigmatic guests include Justice Wargrave (Charles Dance), the former “hanging judge”; General MacArthur (Sam Neill), a highly decorated and well regarded military man; Dr. Edward Armstrong (Toby Stephens), a physician specializing in women’s ailments; Anthony “Tony” Marston (Douglas Booth), an ambiguous attractive playboy; Philip Lomard (Aidan Turner), a suave and handsome mercenary; and finally, Emily Brent (Miranda Richardson), the devoutly religious spinster. Again, every actor and actress play their part with aplomb. Each are Emmy® worthy performances for sure. To call out just one is unfair. And Then There Were None is a must see miniseries because of the stellar acting; elaborate production design by Sophie Becher and set decoration by Charlie Lynam also play important roles.
Throughout the miniseries, you learn a little bit about each character. Snippets and flashbacks give you clues about who these people are. As I did when reading the book, I found myself trying to figure out each character to determine whether they are good or bad. We all have good and evil within us; it’s a choice whether you stay closer to the light or dark. With the way this particular story is brought to life, and the way each actor portrays their respective character duplicitously, it’s not as simple as picking up a vibe on who is telling the truth or lying.
During their first night in the mansion, our guests dine on a magnificent meal prepared by Mrs. Rogers. The table is immaculately set, complete with a tray of ten gorgeous jade figurines. While Mrs. Rogers may seem demure, her ferocity shows in her fine culinary skills. After dinner and dessert, the men retire to one room while Vera and Emily retire to another for coffee. Suddenly there is a crackling sound in the air and then a loud voice. “Ladies and gentleman, silence please. You are charged with the following indictments…” As the voice continues, each person is called out by name and charged with murder. Are they all stone cold killers? The plot thickens.
Each night of And Then There Were None takes you further into each character’s story. Throughout each of the 90+ minute episodes, people mysteriously die and the culprit may be among them. As you watch, you can’t help but think of the peculiar poem, entitled “Ten Little Soldier Boys,” stationed in every single room of the mansion. A snippet of the poem –
“TEN little Soldier Boys went out to dine;
One choked his little self and then there were nine.
NINE little Soldier Boys sat up very late;
One overslept himself and then there were eight.”
When someone dies, one of the beautiful jade figurines goes missing. Who is the killer? Where are Mr. and Mrs. U.N. Owen, if they exist at all? Will anyone survive on Soldier Island or will justice be served? And, to what end?
And Then There Were None is a must see for anyone who loves a great mystery. And if you’ve read the book, please don’t spoil it for anyone. It’s delightful fun to riddle out the clues. Pay attention though, not everything or everyone is as they seem. Tweet me @judybopp.
And Then There Were None airs Sunday, March 13, at 8PM E/P and Monday, March 14, 2016 at 9PM E/P on Lifetime.
For more on the miniseries, go to the official site http://www.mylifetime.com/movies/and-then-there-were-none.