Nearly 50 years after Agatha Christie took her last breath, novelists and filmmakers are still trying to find ways of milking her insanely popular whodunnit formula.
Murder on the Orient Expressrecently had its second big screen adaptation (even though the unusual answer to who “dun” that one was already well-known), while US writer-director Rian Johnson spun an enjoyable take on the formula with Knives Out. The latter succeeded partly because it kept its tongue firmly in its cheek and had larger-than-life characters that were entertaining to watch. Also Johnson realised that if you’re going to take on a formula that’s been so thoroughly ploughed, it’s advisable to find a different path for the horse to get to the field.
With The Translators, French writer-director Régis Roinsard has found not only different paths but also several hidden routes through the tall grass that criss-cross then swiftly double back then turn inside out before viewers have even realised they’ve been led to the centre of a maze.
Roinsard’s first conceit is that the story is not centred on a murder,...