Set in the 1950s, Crooked House is based on an Agatha Christie novel. Charles Hayward (Max Irons) is a former spy who’s now trying to establish himself as a private detective. He gets an unexpected visit one day from Sophia de Haviland (Stefanie Martini), a woman he had a relationship with in Cairo. Sophia asks him to investigate the death of her wealthy and influential grandfather, Aristide Leonides. Aristide was found dead in his bed, poisoned by an intravenous injection that was meant to contain insulin.
Charles is introduced to the eccentric extended family including Sophia’s parents Magda (Gillian Anderson) and Philip (Julian Sands) Leonides, her younger sister Josephine (Honor Kneafsey), brother Eustace (Preston Nyman), Aunt Edith de Haviland (Glenn Close), Aristide’s young wife Brenda (Christina Hendricks) and other family members. Charles has to work out who had the best motive and opportunity for killing the old man while strongly suspecting his former lover.
Murder; crime; love and hate
Crooked House has some violence. For example:
- Aristide is shown lying in bed being given the injection that kills him.
- Edith shoots at moles in the grounds of the family house.
- Philip’s brother Roger says he wants to ‘strangle the killer with his bare hands’.
- Charles grabs a man around the neck and holds him down.
- Josephine falls out of her tree house and is knocked unconscious. The family suspects someone has tried to kill her, but Josephine is shown cutting the rope with a large knife and deliberately falling to the ground.
- Brenda shouts and spits at Roger.
- Josephine’s nanny is shown dead on the floor, also poisoned.
- A car with two of the characters is driven off the edge of a quarry and explodes in a fireball.
Crooked House has some sexual references. For example:
- Josephine tells Charles that Brenda is having an affair with their tutor, Mr Brown. She says they write soppy letters to each other like, ‘Oh darling, I need you more than the air that I breathe’.
- Eustace mentions that he fancies his grandfather’s wife.
- Eustace asks Charles whether he was screwing Sophia in Cairo.
- Sophia asks Charles why he doesn’t take Brenda to bed.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Crooked House shows some use of substances. For example:
- Aristide was poisoned by an intravenous injection, which was meant to contain insulin.
- Characters drink quite a lot throughout the movie.
- Magda says she drank too much claret the night before and now has a bad headache. She proceeds to drink more to cure it.
- Brenda also drinks a bit and is drunk when she shouts and spits at Roger.
- Many characters smoke cigarettes, pipes and cigars.
Nudity and sexual activity
Crooked House has some sexual activity. For example:
- Charles and Sophia kiss passionately a couple of times. One of these times, Sophia is in bed covered only by a sheet.
- Brenda and Brown kiss.
Nothing of concern
Crooked House has some coarse language and name-calling.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Crooked House is a classic Agatha Christie detective mystery set in the 1950s. The story is quite slow, although it has several twists and turns. The outcome is surprising and rather disturbing. For these reasons, the movie is more suited to viewers over 13 years and adults.
The main message from this movie is that people are not always as they appear to be.
You could talk with your children about how we should deal with resentment and hatred before these feelings push us into taking extreme measures.