Movie Review: An Inspector Calls

Last night Daniela wanted to watch a murder mystery, so we began going through the various platforms we have, looking for something that seemed good to both of us. It actually really reminded me of those halcyon days of making a trip to Blockbuster with your friends to pick something to watch that evening. Picking up various movie cases, looking at the back to see what it’s about, and then debating endlessly to try to find something just right. Except harder, because now there’s IMDB, which means I feel compelled to check the reviews on everything before I give it a shot. (If it gets below a 6 on IMDB, the odds of me watching it are very, very slim. Typically I’m looking for higher than a 6.5, and if we can get into the 7 territory and it’s a movie that sounds interesting to me at the moment, then sign me up.)

Amazon Prime has been pushing An Inspector Calls on me for the last long while. It’s always been there, popping up in the “Movies We Think You’ll Like” category again and again. And each time, I’d just skip over it without even looking to see what it’s about. (Fight the power, people! Don’t just watch whatever Amazon or Netflix tell you to.) But this time, it seemed like it would definitely qualify as “murder mystery,” so I checked out the IMDB score. 7.7? And it’s under an hour and a half long?


I had no idea going into it (due to sheer ignorance), but it turns out it’s a made-for-TV production of a quite famous stage play of the same name by J.B. Priestly. It actually premiered in Moscow in 1945, and it’s had numerous adaptations of it over the years, on the stage, screen, and radio. More than 25 total, which is an awful lot, in terms of adaptations. A 32 year old Alec Guinness starred in the first British production. The one I watched is the most recent television version, starring David Thewlis (Lupin from Harry Potter), Ken Stott (Balin from the Hobbit franchise), and Miranda Richardson (Rita Skeeter from Harry Potter, if we want to stay in the fantasy genre, though she’s been in tons of other films and that’s far from her most significant role), as well as some lesser know actors.

I knew very little of the movie going into it, and I think it would be best if you do the same. The only thing I think it would be helpful to be aware of is that this isn’t a popcorn mystery, but rather more of an art film. Not in some sort of zany “I don’t understand what’s going on” way, but Daniela, Denisa, and I ended up talking about the movie for a while after it was over, discussing plot points and character arcs. Which makes sense now, since it’s a production of a play that’s one of the standards in British education.

Just know the basic premise: a family has gathered for a celebratory dinner. In inspector shows up just as it ends, with news that a young woman has committed suicide. He needs to ask some questions to get to the bottom of the matter.

This production is very well done. Short and snappy, with excellent performances across the board. Very well produced, and it doesn’t feel like a shoddy TV production in any sense. I gave it 8.5/10, and I highly recommend it. (So now you can watch it because I told you it was good, not just Amazon. That makes everything better.)


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