She’s one of the fictional babies of author Kerry Greenwood, is the most glamorous private detective Australian has ever known and she’s now heading for the big screen (which the small screen these days). Yep, we’re talking about Phryne Fisher.
After getting her drama television series such as “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries” and “Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries”, Fisher is now being brought to life again thanks to director Tony Tilse (“Serangoon Road”, “Lockie Leonard”). Sadly, “Miss Fisher & the Crypt of Tears” isn’t the homage to the charming and well-loved character we were hoping for.
Right from the start, it’s clear that Tilse not only has a love for Greenwood but also for the other esteemed writers such as Agatha Christie and Hercule Poirot. There are some influences of “Death on the Nile” and “Murder on the Orient Express” and there are also the beloved television characters.
“Miss Fisher & the Crypt of Tears” takes you back to 1929 to Palestine. Right after Miss Fisher (portrayed by Essie Davis) helped to break the daughter of a Bedouin woman out of prison, she has sadly lost her life. Well, luckily for her, us and the film, the death has been staged.
Even more so, Fisher wasn’t afraid to crash her own funeral. She starts back where she has left. Investigating murders and now she sinking her teeth into one that took place at the estate of her host, Lord Lofthouse.
She gets help from DI Jack Robinson (Nathan Page). According to them, Lofthouse is being framed for a murder. The victim was a sheikh from the Middle East who was backing out of a deal with the Lofthouses and so it could be a deal that went wrong. But is that is? Is Lofthouse really being framed or is he a cold-blooded murder after all?
Yep, the elements of the success formula of “Miss Fisher” are there. The charming, witty, and clever detective is back, some intriguing moments are present, and multiple show favourites turn up. So then why isn’t this movie a success?
Well, let’s start with the thing that does work: The acting performances. After portraying the leading role in the spin-off television series, Davis is now returning as Fisher. A stunning return that is! If you’ve seen hear in previous movies such as “The Babadook” and “True History of the Kelly Gang” then you know what great acting she’s capable of. This time, it’s a much more lighthearted, witty, and fun performance but she nails it as usual.
It’s such a shame she doesn’t get the support she deserves. While the acting of Page (“Hiding”, “Underbelly”) isn’t too bad at all, it’s just not working in this movie. His character really feels out of place, in more than one way. Therefore, the chemistry between the two leads is off and that’s why this movie isn’t as captivating as it could have been.
Luckily, there’s Mariam Margolyes (“H is for Happiness”, “The Man Who Invented Christmas”) as Aunt Prudence who’s always there to cheer us up. While her appearance is a very brief one, it’s very amusing to see.
Sadly, the acting performances are the only elements that make from this movie one you need to watch. The visual effects aren’t convincing at all and even though the film had only a budget of $8 million, that doesn’t mean that the special effect shouldn’t be good. The plot line also seems to be rushed.
The deductions that come out of the blue, conclusion that has been drawn too soon or just predictable moments are all just part of this movie and sadly those don’t the movie any justice. The mystery that should have been there, is just not present enough to make from “Miss Fisher & the Crypt of Tears” a real crime movie.
While the television series was a great success (was praised by both critics and fans), we’re not sure that this movie will reach the same height. If you were a fan of the previous adaptations, then you will really like this one. This is mostly because of Davis her ‘fun-to-watch’ performance. If this is the first time you will meet Phryne Fisher, then we suggest you check out the series first.