Movie Review by Debbie Winkler
Starring: Julia McKenzie, Lindsay Duncan, Gene Goodman, Isabella Parriss, Joanna Lumley
Director: Tom Shankland
Series: Miss Marple Series #17 (series 5, episode 1)
Release Date: 23 May 2010
Length: 90 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: TV
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars
“Marina Gregg (Lindsay Duncan), a glamorous but fragile Hollywood starlet, has settled in St. Mary Mead with her dashing husband — the young director Jason Rudd (Nigel Harman). Gregg has captured the fancy of the quaint English village, even Miss Marple (Julia McKenzie), who along with everyone else is eager for a party at Gregg’s stunning home. The hospitality turns horrific when a guest drops dead due to a poisoned margarita. Was Gregg herself the intended target? Miss Marple’s friend Dolly Bantry (Joanna Lumley) has lots to say about the case (and everything else), even offering up some surprising clues. But the high drama isn’t over — another murder grabs the spotlight, leading to a shocking conclusion far beyond what even Hollywood could concoct. The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side is based on the novel by Agatha Christie.” — Masterpiece Mystery
I thought that this was an enjoyable Miss Marple mystery, but I was kind of surprised to see that it was based on Agatha Christie’s actual novel as the plot seemed to so far fetched! The Hollywood actress (played by Lindsay Duncan) was the most unbelievable character for me and I had a difficult time getting around that. After all, she is an older actress with a handsome, younger husband who is a talented director who is coincidentally her director in her latest movie about Nefertiti. She also has a child who was born with severe birth defects, children she adopted and then dropped back into the system, an ex-lover who is now dating her husband’s ex-lover, a string of failed marriages, and is surrounded by hostile Hollywood personalities. Her character was just too over-the-top for me to buy in the small town where Miss Marple (Lindsay Duncan) lives and I didn’t really buy her character. Unfortunately, her character was the main focus of the movie as she was the intended victim of poisoning during her open house party!
My favorite character in this movie was Dolly Bantry (Joanna Lumley), Miss Marple’s gossipy neighbor. Miss Marple had an accident and turned her ankle so she is unable to attend the lethal party and relies on Dolly’s observations and assistance to solve the case. I really liked her character, but I just could not help but be reminded for James and the Giant Peach as Joanna Lumley played Aunt Spike in that film and her voice and face are just so distinctive! She was a lot of fun to watch, though. I also really like the “new” Miss Marple (Lindsay Duncan) they have been using lately. Granted, she is a lady of her time and always defers to the men to solve the case and pick up the pieces, which is kind of off-putting in our day, but that would definitely have been the norm back then. I guess we should be grateful that the male inspectors even listen to the little old lady down the lane!
While this episode is not my favorite in the series, I can say that I still enjoyed myself. As with all of the Masterpiece Mystery presentations, this movie is beautifully filmed and has lots of historical details and accuracy to recommend it to those who enjoy historical dramas. This episode is full of over-the-top characters, as well as a way-out-there mystery that had me guessing until the very end. I figured out who the murderer was pretty quickly, but I could not figure out the motive so I had to wait for Miss Marple to reveal what actually happened. This was kind of fun as I like being able to guess along and follow the clues and observations as Miss Marple talks to people and just kind of weasels the truth out of the unsuspecting people she is talking to. Another enjoyable PBS presentation.
This movie has a few women who die of poison. One of the victims is shown with blood coming out of her nostrils and a few convulsions, but there is nothing grotesque and they die pretty quickly. There are scenes with drinking, smoking and verbal arguments. There are also a few mentions of sex and intimate moments, but they are pretty brief. This movie is appropriate for viewers ages 6 and up, but recommended for ages 10 and up.