AGATHA (director: Michael Apted; screenwriters: story by Kathleen Tynan/Kathleen Tynan/Arthur Hopcraft; cinematographer: Vittorio Storaro; editor: Jim Clark; music: Johnny Mandel; cast: Dustin Hoffman (Wally Stanton), Vanessa Redgrave (Agatha), Timothy Dalton (Col. Archibald Christie), Celia Gregory (Nancy Neele), Helen Morse (Evelyn Crawley), Carolyn Pickles (Charlotte Fisher), Timothy West (Kenwood), Barry Hart (Superintendent Macdonald), Paul Brooks (Foster); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Jarvis Astaire/Gayrik Losey; Warner Bros.; 1979-UK/USA)
Unconvincing. Reviewed by Dennis SchwartzA fictionalized account of the actual disappearance of noted crime writer Agatha Christie for 11 days, starting on December 3, 1926. The writer’s disappearance from her suburban London residence was never explained. Speculation was that she was murdered or committed suicide. In this tale Agatha is told by her colonel hubby (Timothy Dalton) that he wishes a divorce to marry his secretary Nancy Neele (Celia Gregory). Agatha tries suicide by car but fails, abandoning her car in the woods and using the alias of her husband’s secretary and lover to register at a hotel in Harrogate that was noted for its spa treatments for its wealthy clientele. American reporter Wally Stanton (Dustin Hoffman) tracks her down and gets involved with her. After Agatha was discovered alive, two years later, the couple divorced and the colonel married his secretary lover. Michael Apted (“The Squeeze”/”Extreme Measures”) works from a slight plot and offers no suspense. It’s based on the story by Kathleen Tynan, and is co-written by Tynan and Arthur Hopcraft. Though the period details are good, the execution is flat and the wild tale is unconvincing. A miscast Hoffman lumbers through the film ruining every scene he’s in. Its only glory is the bravo heartfelt performance by Redgrave. I could find no reason for making the aimless film since it doesn’t tell us much.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”