Movie Review ‘Agatha and the Curse of Ishtar’

By: 
John Thomas

You’re a successful, popular, 38-year-old writer, weary and sorrowful after terminating a 14-year marriage. You want a change, maybe even romance – what to do? Go to Iraq of course.

Agatha (Lyndsey Marshal) is seated at a dinner table surrounded by sympathetic friends concerned for her wellbeing and trying to bring her back to life after a depressing period. “If it’s adventure, love and romance you’re looking for, come visit us in Iraq,” says Katherine Woolley (Katherine Kingsley), another guest at the table. With a lascivious glint in her eyes, she continues, “It’s the perfect place for romance.” Her husband, Leonard Woolley (Jack Deam), wholeheartedly agrees to Agatha’s possible visit. “You’ll love it there,” he adds. The Woolleys live in an imposing lodge near an important archeological site in Iraq.

Agatha later visits her publishers who are moderately interested in her latest romantic novel but rather wish for another book with that “fat detective” in it. They graciously decide to allow her two months to prepare her next work.

She makes a decision – boards a ship, then a train and finally a bus to bring her to the dig in Iraq. Stepping from the bus, the first person she meets is Max Mallowan (Jonah Hauer-King), who collapses at her feet with a bullet wound to his head. She finally manages to drag him into a nearby car and drives off to the lodge/compound to seek help. The unexplained bullet wound is of interest to Agatha.

When Max regains consciousness he explains that, after entering the lower levels of the dig, he found a colleague holding a stone tablet in his hand with the curse of Ishtar carved on the surface. The man unexpectedly dies and the tablet slips from his grasp.

Max remembers little else beyond his rescue by Agatha and his waking up in a bed at the lodge. Katherine’s loud screams bring everyone into the foyer of the lodge where she stands in front of her cherished pet monkey dangling from the chandelier with a rope tied around its neck.

Who could do such a thing to her beloved companion? Turns out just about everyone as they all hate the troublesome creature who screeches all the time and enters their rooms to disrupt and steal things.

Death number two and no explanation as to the reason, cause or perpetuator. With the help of Max, Agatha begins an inquiry as to possible causes of the deaths – the main possibility she feels is poisoning. She deduces that it is not possible to strangle a monkey without a struggle – there would be scratches and loud noises. She and Max begin their research by examining the monkey’s liver for traces of poison. Through time consuming chemical testing, they do discover the cause of death is strychnine. Their close proximity also allows them to discover more about each other. This in turn creates a strong bond between the two.

Months later, Agatha returns to the London offices of her publishers with two new manuscripts. The gentlemen are thrilled to be presented with another “fat man” mystery and a romance novel. She insists, however, that the romantic book be published under a nom de plume. They all anticipate the two books to be most successful. As it turns out, Ishtar wasn’t a curse for Agatha but actually a blessing.

Directed by Sam Yates (Credits: The Hope Rooms, Bear’s Den: Auld Wives) this 95 minute presentation is a “see.”

johan@beachomber.news

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