Agatha (1979): Mystery Drama, Starring Vanessa Redgrave and Dustin Hoffman

Michael Apted’s Agatha is a peculiar, uninolving mystery about the disappearance of Agatha Christie (Vanessa Redgrave) for 11 days in 1926, investigated by an American journalist (played indifferently by a miscast Dustin Hoffman).

 

The melodrama of Christie’s marital problems doesn’t gel with the mystery thriller, and the whole movie is lethargic, lacking real dramatic energy.  However, casting Redgrave’s then real-life beau Timothy Dalton as her husband in the film adds some interest.  Dalton would soon become the new James Bond.

 

The coupling of the very tall Redgrave and the very short Hoffman continued the trends that first began with Diane Keaton and Woody Allen (“Annie Hall,” “Manhattan”), suggesting that norms of gender representation and romantic love were changing in Hollywood.  Unfortunately, there is not much chemistry between the stars.

 

Beautifully shot by the ace lenser Vittorio Storaro, “Agatha” is a stylized art film masquerading as commercial entertainment.

 

Oscar Alert

 

Oscar Nominations: 1

 

Costume Design: Shirley Russell

 

Oscar Context

 

The winner of the Costume Design was Albert Wolsky for Bob Fosse’s musical biopic extravaganza, “All That Jazz.”

 

Credits

Warner (Sweetwall Production)