Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears review : Even more glamorous on the big screen

“You were spotted dancing with undesirables,” is the charge leveled at Miss Fisher after she is chased through the streets of Jerusalem.

“Oh, I don’t know,” she responds, “I found some of them quite desirable.”

And thus sets the tone of Miss Fisher – a woman unafraid of authority, who sees things others do not, and refuses to be kept in a patriarchal box.

Also – she’s super fun.

As someone who never saw any of the “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries” TV series, watching this film it was easy to see how this series became a cult classic. Adapted from the book series by Kerry Greenwood and licensed to more than 120 countries, the 1920s whodunnit anthology – unusual for having a protagonist that was neither old nor male – captured attention due to the magnetic performance of its lead, Essie Davis, her chemistry with her male fatale, Detective Inspector Jack Robinson (Nathan Page), and the incredible re-imaging of 1920s fashion and feel in Melbourne, Australia.

Moving to new locations of toffy England and the sandy dunes of the Middle East to set the film apart, the opening finds Phryne Fisher on the run before and after freeing a young girl, Shirin (Izabella Yena), from her unjust imprisonment in Jerusalem. Here she begins to unravel a mystery concerning priceless emeralds, ancient curses and the truth behind the suspicious disappearance of Shirin’s forgotten tribe.

Partially crowdfunded and working imaginatively within a small $8 million dollar budget, like any crowdfunding effort, this is a film for the fans. But while the locations certainly make the film feel grander, it can’t quite hide it’s lower budget roots.

Essie Davis is a joy, and her repartee with the Detective Inspector and poor Professor Linnaeus (John Waters) is a highlight, but sadly no one within the extended mystery has much time or character depth to pop off the screen.

Fans will revel in the romantic developments and joy of seeing much loved characters owning the screen, and it’s certainly set up to continue the story should the fans show up. This film is quite unlike anything else coming out of Australian cinema right now – being neither tersely dramatic or aimed at children – with a witty and worldly female protagonist, so this fan sure hopes so.

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