Current Issue #488

Film Review:
Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears

Essie Davis in Miss Fisher & The Crypt of Tears
Essie Davis returns as Phryne Fisher

This big screen adventure for Miss Phryne Fisher should please adoring fans, but newbies will find it all a bit damn hokey, with silly plotting, some ropey acting and the unwise decision to turn the protagonist into a James – or Jane – Bond.

Drawn from Kerry Greenwood’s books, the popular ABC series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries was always going to make it to cinemas in some form after three seasons between 2012 and 2015 – one has to look no further than the $733,000 in crowdfunding the production raised for evidence of the film’s readymade audience. But, while Essie Davis is occasionally amusing as the virtually super-heroic Phryne, the rest is too often kitschy nonsense.

A preposterous 1929-set opening sequence apparently shot in Morocco has Davis’ ridiculously conspicuous Phryne (first seen in spangly gowns and shortly thereafter in scarlet and heels) free the imprisoned Shirin Abbas (Izabella Yena) from prison and then seemingly perish after being squashed by an FX train. This isn’t a spoiler because it all happens in the first ten dopey minutes or so, and then Fisher turns up at her wake in London (actually Melbourne) to the weepy relief of a host of sometimes-continuing characters including Prudence Stanley (the British-Australian Miriam Margolyes) and Detective Inspector Jack Robinson (Nathan Page), who still has quite the crush on her. Rather.

We plod along for a while before a ho-hum murder is committed, Fisher and Jack wind up suspects, and (like they’re in an especially goofy Hitchcock movie) they must dangerously set out to clear their names. After assistance from Professor Linnaeus (the Aussie John Waters, not the Baltimore one), Fisher and friends travel to Palestine to search for the mythical titular spot, as a dodgy hint of the supernatural is introduced and the glam Fisher never has a hair out of place despite the FX desert heat.

There are more than a few problems with Deb Cox’s script (as directed by Tony Tilse), but perhaps the most serious is that the twisty revelations of the final sequence are somewhat confusing, and there’s a sudden here-I-am!!! appearance by a villain so obvious they might as well have painted themselves bright pink and danced on a piano singing, “Cunning plans are here again…”

But wait: a sequel is promised at the very end after Phryne survives (oops – spoilers!), so prepare yourself for a potential gaggle of feature-length Fisher-ian adventures.

Read it and weep.

Reviewer Rating

Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears (M) is in cinemas now

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