The Suspicions Of Mr Whicher

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On the morning of 30th June 1860, the body of three-year-old Saville Kent is found brutally murdered and hidden down a servants' privy in the grounds of the elegant Road Hill House, on the edge of a sleepy Somerset village. As the local police struggle to solve the crime, the case becomes a national scandal and on the orders of the Home Secretary, Inspector Jonathan "Jack" Whicher, the so-called "Prince of Sleuths" from the newly formed Scotland Yard detective department, is despatched to the countryside to identify the killer and restore order, but this case is to prove the most difficult of his career. Behind the seemingly respectable middle-class façade of the Kent family, Whicher discovers adultery, insanity and jealousy in a world populated by gossiping servants, a wicked stepmother and rebellious children. With the local police actively working against him, it's a struggle for Whicher to find the evidence and nail the culprit. Adapted from Kate Summerscale's best-selling book, this gripping true story of murder, psychological suspense and courtroom drama has all the hallmarks of a classic Victorian murder mystery: a body, a detective and a country house full of secrets and suspects.


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Audience Reviews for The Suspicions Of Mr Whicher

  • Jul 07, 2011
    As inscribed on their gravestone: MARY ANN WIFE OF S SAVILL KENT ESO. 1808-1852 ALSO OF FRANCIS SAVILL KENT 1856-1860 THE DEARLY LOVED SON OF SAMUEL SAVILL AND MARY DROWE KENT CRUELLY MURDERED AT ROAD AGED 3 YEARS AND 10 MONTHS SHALL NOT GOD SEARCH THIS OUT FOR HE KNOWETH THE SECRETS OF THE HEART Simply excellent flick. I was surprised to know that some were bored by it and found it run-of-the-mill whodunit. Maybe they knew about the case beforehand or had read the bestseller (which is said to contain very minute details about the family background and the case in general) which was the basis for this telefilm. Or maybe they simply found it boring. Whatever, hail "to each their own". I liked the movie on almost all levels. The way layer after layer is peeled that establish motives for different persons to commit the crime, and the way the family's secrets are exposed is remarkable. However, at times, I felt that the movie should have begun from the point where the child goes missing. But after a while (somewhere near the first half) I realized that the movie wasn't meant to be merely a mysterious story (or so I felt). To say it's just a run-of-the-mill whodunit or even just a whodunit won't be appropriate IMO. The whodunit was one of its several impressive elements, but it wasn't the whole and soul of the movie (and hence isn't dragged till the very end). The movie is quite shocking in itself, and given that it's based on real life events only intensifies the effect. I can't remember when was the last time that some scene in a movie managed to literally send a chill down my spine before this one. (I won't be able to specify that particular scene without including spoilers, which I guess some of you would very much welcome :p) The movie doesn't involve graphic violence or gore, and still it manages to render such effects. Of course, the screenplay must have deviated from the happenings and order of real life events to an extent to maintain its grip, but I don't consider it as its drawback. If anything, it only helped in maintaining my attention and curiosity. Performance-wise, everyone seemed suitably cast in their given role. Yet I'd like to admit that the looks of certain characters were awkward. But I guess it was as per the norms in those days and place. And thankfully, these characters didn't have a large role to play (which might have been distracting). Do I recommend it? Well, it won't be justifiable to say that I can't recommend a movie which now belongs to my all time favorite movies' list. While that doesn't undo the saying "to each their own", I can only hope that you too would like it.
    familiar s Super Reviewer
  • May 04, 2011
    <div style="width:250px;"><a href=""><img src="" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href=""></a></div></div> <B><I>THE SUSPICIONS OF MR WHICHER</I> (2011)</B> WRITTEN BY: Neil McKay, based on the book by Kate Summerscale DIRECTED BY: James Hawes FEATURING: Peter Capaldi, Tom Georgeson, William Beck, Emma Fielding, Tim Pigott-Smith, Kate O'Flynn, Donald Sumpter, Ben Miles, and Alexandra Roach GENRE: HISTORICAL MYSTERY TAGS: crime <B>PLOT:</B> In t860, a skilled investigator is called into an insular, rustic, British hamlet to investigate the murder of a wealthy land owner's toddler. COMMENTS: Clichés common to period pieces are refreshingly absent in this historical whodunit, adapted from Kate Summerscale's fact-based mystery novel. Instead of labored attempts to reproduce stiffly eloquent, decorous dialogue in opulent parlors, the viewer is presented with a grittier picture of the British Victorian world, one of markedly dramatic, rural class contrasts, primitive sanitation, dirty, smoky subterranean jails, and a public lust for lurid scandal, as driven by a sensational tabloid press and thriving pulp novel industry. In June 1860, the three year old (four in the film) son of a prosperous family in Rode (formerly Road, nearby Frome), Francis Savill Kent, was found stabbed, slashed, and unceremoniously dumped in the estate outhouse. The local constabulary, circumscribed by the provincialism of class issues, community values, and a hierarchy of rural, extended family inter-relation, lacked the requisite expertise necessary to intelligently resolve the case. Moreover, the investigation was being directed by the magistrate, as was the custom, who was motivated by prejudice, hearsay, gossip and bias. Responding to public outcry, the Home Secretary requested help from Scotland Yard, which sent in seasoned detective Jonathan Whicher. The film opens with Whicher's arrival in Road. Operating in the days before modern forensic science, Whicher must confront the local deference to class hierarchy and assemble a theory based on largely circumstantial evidence. It will have to be a solution forged by eliminating prospective culprits in the extended Kent household until the most likely suspect is exposed like the fruit of a banana, the obstructing peel having been stripped away section by section. Pushed by Scotland Yard to make a speedy arrest, and hounded by a popular press which is predisposed to find fault with his methods, Detective Whicher finds himself trapped between the coals and the iron. He must work quickly, but accurately, as Scotland Yard's reputation, not to mention his career, hangs in the balance. Summerscale's book is written in the style of a classic manor murder mystery. The author deftly deploys the familiar devices of detective fiction to weave a presentation in which facts are presented in the form of a puzzle to be unraveled from the point of view an investigator. Well researched, Summerscale's <I>The Suspicions Of Mr Whicher: or the Murder at Road Hill House</I> relies on qualified speculation when necessary to fill out the story. Based upon original police files in the British Library and National Archives, as well as popular press accounts contemporary to the crime. the principle substance of the account is historically accurate. The film, <I>The Suspicions Of Mr Whicher</I> is a dramatization of the book. While it follows the text more or less faithfully, time constraints preclude the inclusion of many of Summerscale's artful nuances and detail. That being the case in any cinematic adaptation from print however, the movie is nicely executed, but at 94 minutes, it is straightforward, and beyond reproach for having any over abundance of convolution, or rich character development. Nevertheless, <I>The Suspicions Of Mr Whicher</I> is an absorbing, well-directed and historically credible account of a tawdry, bloody Victorian era murder and the challenges faced by the adroit detective charged with its solution. <div style="width:250px;"><a href=""><img src="" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href=""></a> </div></div> <div style="width:120px;font-size:10px;text-align:center;"></div><a href=""><img src="" border="0" /></a><div style="font-size:10px;width:120px;text-align:center;"><a href=""><I>The Suspicions Of Mr Whicher</I></a> - interview with author Kate Summerscale</div>
    Pamela D Super Reviewer

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