Fans of the popular Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries series (Australian Broadcasting Company, 2012-2015) were overjoyed when the show’s writers talked of getting the crew back for a new caper in 2017. With ABC dragging their feet with the financing for a potential international caper for the high flying lady detective, Every Cloud Productions launched a Kickstarter to secure the proper funding. Fans rallied and got the film funded in 48 hours ($250,000 AUD). 7,763 backers funded a total of $733,210 AUD-a more than an adequate sum to get The Honorable Phryne Fisher to parts known and unknown.
Opening with the fearless Miss Fisher running through the streets of Jerusalem, we soon learn the world’s foremost lady detective has been hired by Sheikh Khalil to assist in getting his niece out of imprison. After learning Shirin Abbas (the Sheikh’s niece) has been falsely accused of agitating, Miss Fisher gets to work. Breaking her out of jail, the two fugitives of the British Imperial police hightail it to the railway. In a daring escape, Shirin manages to make it onto the train, while it appears that our intrepid (and always impeccably dressed) heroine falls to her death.
The news reaches Melbourne, where Bert, Cec, Hugh, Dot and Jack are all understandably devastated. While Dot wants to attend the memorial, Hugh is reluctant to let her because she is pregnant with their first child. It’s a tantalizing plot bunny that goes no further because that’s the only onscreen time Dottie and Hugh get.
While the newlyweds are unable to attend the service, Jack undertakes the long journey to England. At a memorial hosted by her friends Lord and Lady Lofthouse (with Aunt Prudence in attendance), Jack begins a probable elegant eulogy and is promptly interrupted by Phryne landing her plane on the manor lawn.
The tension is high between Phryne and Jack-and it’s not simply because he came 12,000 miles to farewell her and she wasn’t actually deceased. Jack was also told about Miss Fisher’s (offscreen) marriage to the Maharaja of Alwar and his hurt over that is evident in his reaction to Phryne. The unresolved sexual tension between these two has always been off the charts and their brief interaction when Phryne reappears is evident of that UST.
While Jack declares he’s done with Phryne, our favorite lady detective must fulfill her promise to Shirin to investigate the destruction of her Bedouin village in Palestine. With a clue from a note given to Shirin, Phryne went to the one person she trusts above all else: Detective Inspector Jack Robinson.
At a midnight meeting at a church in SoHo, Phryne meets up with the mysterious man who left Shirin the note with clues to her village’s destruction. While he is decidedly distrustful of Phryne, he is definitely distrustful of Jack, who shows up to back Miss Fisher. While they try to assure the mystery man of their intention to help Shirin, he is shot and killed by an unknown assailant.
As Phryne and Jack explain their presence at a murder to the local constabulary, they are tasked with proving their innocence and solving another crime…all while Jack is held hostage in the UK (the police assistant commissioner withheld his passport).
Back at the Lofthouse manor, a ball is in full swing in Shirin’s honor and her uncle Sheikh Khalil implores her to forget the past and embrace her future in England. His tune changes when Shirin shares her memories of the night her village was destroyed and her mother disappeared.
As a businessman, the Sheikh was involved in a potential deal with Lord Lofthouse to expand the railroad in Palestine. After listening to Shirin, he decides to not move forward, much to the chagrin of Lord Lofthouse. In a drunken rage, Lofty takes a swing (and a miss) at Sheikh Khalil. While he’s cooling off outside, there’s nefarious happenings inside. A shot rings out and Sheikh Khalil is found shot to death in his room.
As Shirin lost her village, her mother and uncle, the decision is made to head back to Palestine to discover the lost secrets it holds. The fact that a massive emerald reputed to be part of the treasure of Alexander the Great is found in Sheikh Khalil’s room seals the deal.
With Phryne and Shirin in her plane, Jonathan Lofthouse (brother of Lord Lofthouse) and Jack follow in the former’s aircraft. Traversing the dangerous desert sands, the group reaches the decimated former village of Shirin’s family. Discovering the secret crypt of tears of Alexander, Shirin finds the preserved body of her mother…and Jonathan Lofthouse comes clean about his involvement in the Bedouin enclave. Although not involved in the massacre of its people, Jonathan did nothing as two of his war compatriots wreaked havoc on Shirin’s people.
Overwhelmed by guilt, Jonathan set out with Phryne, Shirin and Jack to set things right and break Alexander’s curse. Instead of breaking the curse, we find the real killer of Sheikh Khalil and the mystery man in SoHo: the Lofthouse butler-and Jonathan’s biological father-Crippins. It’s an odd reveal as Crippins had little screentime and made very little impression. Another plot hole that perhaps wasn’t fully fleshed out by the writers.
In the end, fans of Phrack (Phryne and Jack’s ship name) get their resolution. In a great callback to the original series, Phryne screams out for Jack due to a tarantula. As they both tell fibs (Phryne’s: there was no tarantula; Jack’s: he killed the imaginary tarantula) to get into one another’s orbit, we’re given a Phrack kiss that’s full of emotion and longing. It took the film until the final 5 minutes to give us the goods, but give it up they did.
In the final moments, there’s a setup for a potential sequel when a message is given to Phryne’s regarding her (fake) husband, the Maharaja of Alwar being murdered. Kickstarter number 2, here we come.
Catch Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears on Acorn TV.