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A&E Home Video presents
Poirot: Evil Under the Sun (2001)

"I'll tell you this, Mr. Poirot. That woman is trouble."
- Emily Brewster (Carolyn Pickles)

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: August 25, 2002

Stars: David Suchet, Hugh Fraser, Philip Jackson, Louise Delamere
Other Stars: Michael Higgs, Pauline Moran, Tim Meats, Russell Tovey
Director: Brian Farnham

Manufacturer: NewVideo
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild violence and language)
Run Time: 01h:39m:53s
Release Date: August 27, 2002
UPC: 013131162493
Genre: mystery

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- B+BB- D+

DVD Review

For years now, actor David Suchet has embodied the soul of Agatha Christie's brilliant, obsessively clean, hopelessly formal, Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot. His performance conjures up one of the most believable characters seen in television drama, cleanly obscuring the real man behind the role. One does not think of Suchet playing Poirot; one simply sees Poirot. In 2001, he starred in yet another feature for British television as the infamous sleuth, only this time, the adaptation was of one of Christie's most famous novels, Evil Under The Sun, greatly popularized in the theatrical film version starring Peter Ustinov. In a sense, I think the cast and crew had a lot to live up to in this production of such a hallowed mystery classic, even for the casual fan of mystery novels.

The story begins with Poirot attending the grand opening of the new restaurant of his good friend, Captain Hastings. While there, it seems his luxuriant lifestyle and over-indulgence in many of life's pleasures catches up to him and he suffers a mild heart-attack. His doctor tells him the obvious: he's gained too much weight and needs a better diet. To assist his recovery, Poirot is assigned to two weeks vacation at Sandy Cove, a posh island retreat. Captain Hastings is obliged to tag along, and upon their arrival, they both can already see that there are many colorful characters surrounding them. One is Arlena Stuart, a rather famous and scandalous socialite. Despite that he is supposed to be relaxing, Poirot can not stop his "little gray cells" from working overtime, and he clearly sees something under the surface. He witnesses Arlena Stuart treating her husband cruelly and openly having an affair with another young man, whose wife is grief-stricken. He sees a formula for tragedy, and though he tries to stop it before it gets out of hand, his fears come true and Arlena winds up dead, strangled on a nearby beach by some mysterious hand.

The island is closed off and no one can leave or arrive, which puts Poirot back in the detective role as he steps up the challenge of unraveling the trail of potential clues and suspects. The hard part is, almost everyone on the island had some motive to want to see harm come to Arlena. Carefully crafted, Evil Under The Sun is enormously successful in bringing the viewer into this mystery along with Poirot. Perhaps the most important aspect of the film is accurately conveying Sandy Cove and, amazingly, the filmmakers basically found a real-life Sandy Cove on which to film; an actual isolated island resort, making the on-location filming very atmospheric and believable. The period costumes and accurate immersion into the story's subtleties make up a good percentage of what works here. Of course, in addition to the setting, the character acting by all those involved provides plenty of guesswork in which person is hiding the most from Poirot. For those already intimately familiar with the novel, this film might have few surprises, if any, but it manages to dignify and respect the general Agatha Christie atmosphere. It lacks the showier, "louder" aspects that major theatrical versions often have and, instead, chooses to take the quiet, clever route. There is genius to this smooth approach to the 'whodunit' genre, and I applaud the "little gray cells" of director Brian Farnham and producer Brian Eastman.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The full-screen image is very nice, but slightly flawed by a bit of heavy grain, which causes some slight compression issues in darker scenes. This isn't distracting or too problematic, thankfully. The source material is pretty good and the cinematography is nicely presented.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The stereo soundtrack is serviceable. The musical score, dialogue and general effects are nicely rendered and function well, but there is little in the way of any major spatial dimension of directional effects.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Index of Hercule Poirot stories.
Extras Review: The supplements aren't terribly special, although they are slightly informal. There are biographies of Agatha Christie, David Suchet, and the character of Poirot himself. Additionally, there is a listing of every single novel or story featuring the character.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

Like most of the A&E mysteries, Evil Under The Sun is a high quality, satisfying experience that retains the crucial elements of the story while allowing gifted actors to take the tale and make it their own. If you're already a fan of David Suchet's peerless performance as Hercule Poirot, this is a no-brainer to rent or buy.


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