Lifetime stepped up its game a few weeks ago when they presented the mini-series "War & Peace." It was a beautifully crafted and acted event. Now Lifetime is bringing us "And Then There Were None" based on Agatha Christie's classic novel. This two part mini-series is not as flamboyantly presented as "War & Peace" but it has a more subtle mood that draws the audience to it.
The basic premise is that eight strangers are individually invited to a remote island by an unknown host. They are greeted by two servants who show them to their rooms. The "hosts" are supposed to be present at dinner that night. The eight people invited are wary of each other but cordial just the same.
From the day they arrive their days seem to be numbered. One by one they begin to die and it seems apparent there is a murderer among them. Who he or she may be is the big question. They can't get off the island and there is now way to call for help. Every man and woman soon learns that it is do (something) or die.
The isolated island adds to the claustrophobic feel of the story, and the time period being the late 1930s makes it almost otherworldly. These years are a time of frosty manners and social structures that inhibit the social interchanges, This is most apparent with the character of Vera Claythorne (Maeve Dermody), a woman who thinks she has been brought to the island to fill a staff position. Upon her arrival she is treated like the other guests and this makes her uncomfortable.
Her exact opposite in this setting is Anthony Marston (Douglas Booth), a young man who is used to all the creature comforts. He sprawls around the house expecting any and every one to cater to his whims.
As time passes the deaths begin to occur, one after another. Each one adds to the suspense and the need to know who is doing these evil deeds. This is Agatha Christie at her best and her most diabolical. It is also the way her work should be presented. The photography, the setting, the sound effects and the acting all conspire to make her book a startling movie.
Dermody is excellent as the uncomfortable visitor. She has an Emily Blunt type of thing going on and she keeps you guessing about her character long after you have figured out others. Also good is Sam Neill as a retired general, Charles Dance as a "hanging judge", and Aidan Turner as a handsome mystery man.
There is a lot of fun to be had in watching "And Then There Were None." It will definitely keep you guessing, even if the final details don't completely add up. When the presentation is this good a few flaws in the makeup of the story don't matter that much.
"And Then There Were None" airs on Lifetime, Sunday, March 13 at 8 PM and Monday, March 14 at 9PM.
Jackie K Cooper