Upon reading Cocaine Blues on publication thirty years ago, I thought that the book was splendid and that the protagonist, the first class heroine, Phryne Fisher a luminous leading lady ready made for the silver screen.
The book was the first of a series and that series was picked up for television, casting the luminous Essie Davis in the role of Phryne Fisher. And now, at last, the stylish sleuth is being given the big screen story she deserves in MISS FISHER & THE CRYPT OF TEARS.
An original screenplay by Deb Cox, who originally adapted Kerry Grenwood’s books for television, MISS FISHER & THE CRYPT OF TEARS is an action adventure set in 1929 against the backdrop of rising tensions in British mandated Palestine, a time of shameful chauvinist colonialism, when colonial powers overrode local culture, and stiff upper lip skulduggery concealed more skeletons in the closet than a catacomb of bygone bones.
From Melbourne’s magnificent mansions to the majestic Middle East, MISS FISHER & THE CRYPT OF TEARS presents a mysterious affair of style, secrets, stunts and slow burn sensuality.
Jauntily jump started by a Jerusalem jailbreak, MISS FISHER & THE CRYPT OF TEARS first frantic act contains a ripping railway sequence, a curtain raiser part Indiana Jones part James Bond, that results in a curious cliffhanger.
The action is then propelled, literally, with aviatrix antic back to England’s mannered manors for the expositioning of plot points before an expedient expedition back to the sand dunes and ancient tombs of the desert.
Murder, mayhem, political intrigue and the discovery of an ancient curse ensue, as the indefatigable and fabulously frocked Phryne Fisher fearlessly faces fatality in her quest for resolution and justice.
Seconded as ever by her loyal, long suffering, love lorn partner in detection, Jack Robinson, playfully reprised by Nathan Page, MISS FISHER & THE CRYPT OF TEARS proves to be an awfully big adventure, exotic and epic in scope, a thoroughly entertaining romp.
Archetypal characters are given a new lease of life in a trio of fine supporting roles – John Waters as a hermit archaeologist who has history with Miss Fisher, William Zappa as a surly and suspicious Police Commissioner, and the venerable John Stanton as the all seeing, all knowing butler, Crippins.
Production values are first class, most notably the cossies, as much Essie Davis’ costars as her fellow actors. They are the creation of Margot Wilson and they are stunningly arresting.
Robert Perkins production design is also a highlight, as is Greg J. Walker’s super scaled up orchestral score that brilliantly fuses Middle Eastern exoticism with the raw cheeky spirit of the 1920s.
Exquisitely lensed by cinematographer Roger Lanser, MISS FISHER & THE CRYPT OF TEARS is zestfully directed by Tony Tilse, the set up director of the Miss Fisher television series.