INVITATION TO A MURDER Review: Cheerful Amateur Detective at Your Service

Mischa Barton plays a detective in the murder mystery, directed by Stephen Shimek.

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas, US (@peteramartin)
INVITATION TO A MURDER Review: Cheerful Amateur Detective at Your Service

"I just pay attention."

Invitation to a Murder
The film is available Tuesday, April 25, on DVD, Digital and On Demand via Lionsgate.

Miranda Green (Mischa Barton) is a younger version of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple. Instead of a sweet little old lady, she is a sunny 30-something florist. She delights in playing amateur detective with a keen set of observational skills.

As it happens, she is one of a half-dozen people who have received an invitation to spend the weekend at the island estate of the mysterious Lord Finlay. Traveling by train early in the 20th century, the six passengers are an eclectic lot: cheery optimist Miranda, cynical American journalist Donald (Chris Browning), smiling attorney Lawrence (Seamus Dever), noncommittal doctor Phillip (Giles Matthey), lively Spanish waitress Carmen (Bianca A. Santos), and shy, retiring mystery woman Lu (Grace Lynn Kung), who has traveled from China, expressly for the weekend with Lord Findlay.

The only thing they have in common is that none of them claim to know Lord Findlay personally or why they were specifically invited. Upon arrival at the estate, they are met by Gordon (James Urbaniak) and the two-person household staff, Sean (Alex Hyde-White) and Katherine (Amy Sloan). They are also informed that Lord Findlay has been delayed, which gives them time to wander around the estate and poke into things.

Before too terribly long, a murder has been committed. Miranda quickly takes charge of the investigation. From there, things play out in a familiar fashion, as various red herrings are introduced and then disposed of, politely, and each person's innocence and/or guilt is considered carefully. Very, very carefully.

Directed by Stephen Shimek, who has helmed everything from family films to horror thrillers over the past 14 years, Invitation to a Murder moves at an amiable pace initially, before picking up a step or two after the titular murder is committed, but never becoming hurried. Mischa Barton plays the sleuthing Miranda as a woman who has just found a purpose in her life, a moment when her natural bent toward close observation and analytical talents point her toward her future.

As a wonderful personal counselor told me: "Take life seriously, but never yourself." Invitation to a Murder follows that advice, taking its subject matter seriously, but never itself. Brian O'Donnell's screenplay makes clear its open affection for Agatha Christie and Miss Marple, creating a lovely atmosphere in which young Miranda Green flourishes, making for a pleasant, enjoyable murder mystery.

Invitation to a Murder

  • Stephen Shimek
  • Gérard Miller
  • Brian O'Donnell
  • Jerome Reygner-Kalfon
  • Mischa Barton
  • Chris Browning
  • Bianca A. Santos
Screen Anarchy logo
Do you feel this content is inappropriate or infringes upon your rights? Click here to report it, or see our DMCA policy.
Bianca A. SantosChris BrowningLionsgateMischa BartonSeamus DeverStephen SimekUKStephen ShimekGérard MillerBrian O'DonnellJerome Reygner-KalfonMysteryThriller

More about Invitation to a Murder

Around the Internet