Miss Fisher & the Crypt of Tears (M) - 110 minutes
A delightful Indiana Jones-like, totally far-fetched, comedic period mystery, it features a surfeit of colourful characters, lavish costumes and magnificent locales.
While this is her first time on the big screen, stylish and accomplished private detective and wealth aristocrat Phryne Fisher built a solid following in books by Kerry Greenwood, which date back to 1989.
Phryne also appeared in three series of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries on TV between 2012 and 2015, with Essie Davis in the lead role.
In Miss Fisher & the Crypt of Tears, Fisher is wanted for questioning in Jerusalem, but slips the web.
She is on the case of a young Bedouin woman, Shirin Abbas (Izabella Yena), who has been jailed unfairly in the same city.
Fisher manages to break her out of prison and the next time we see both is in London, where the woman’s uncle is.
The British are trying to sign a lucrative agreement with him, but not everything goes accordingly to plan.
And there is more here than meets the eye because Shirin’s family was slaughtered and a curse placed over a priceless emerald.
Before this is over, surprise, surprise, not everyone will survive and Fisher must get to the heart of the mystery.
Miss Fisher & the Crypt of Tearsis an adventure that takes place in exotic 1920s British Palestine and in the opulence of grand London manors.
It was filmed on location in Morocco, including in the sand dunes on the edge of the Sahara Desert and in Melbourne’s historic mansions.
Written by Deb Cox and directed by Tony Tilse, in his feature film debut, both are drawn from television.
Undoubtedly the film’s standout – as well as centrepiece – is Essie Davis, who is superb in the lead.
She looks great (Margot Wilson is responsible for costume design), acts up a storm and is the glue that binds this triumphant Australian production – which is bound to have many fans – together.
Her character runs rings around the hapless men in the piece, including her paramour.
Sure, you could pick holes in the preposterous plot, but that would not be in keeping with the spirit of the picture – namely light hearted fun.
To get the most out of it, you need to suspend belief and accept the cartoon nature of the narrative arc and what that entails.
Breaking a prisoner out of a Middle Eastern sand-caked environment in a bright, haute couture red dress is but one example (by the way, I loved the ensemble).
Bear in mind, this is an adventure-seeker who can do no wrong and will always get her man – whether friend or foe.
I admired the fact that the actors – many familiar, such as Jacqueline McKenzie, John Stanton and John Waters – actually managed to keep a straight face through a number of the scenes.
Crowd funding undoubtedly helped get the film made and those who backed it deserve plaudits.
Rated M, Miss Fisher & the Crypt of Tears scores a 7 out of 10.