Picture Agatha Christie as a shy literary celebrity in England who is married to Colonel Archie Christie, a man in love with his secretary, Nancy Neele. Imagine the shock when Agatha disappears in 1926 for eleven days. The police hunt the countryside. They drag a nearby pond. No sign of her. Where was Agatha and why did she pull this vanishing act?

Agatha is a visually rich movie filmed exquisitely by Vittorio Storro and pleasantly scored by Robert Mandel. Superstars Vanessa Redgrave and Dustin Hoffman are paired as the two unlikely companions. Sadly enough, there is no screen magic between them. Vanessa Redgrave starts off well with a touching depiction of Agatha's hurt at the hands of a husband who has no regard for her. But then she walks through the rest of her part. Hoffman, perhaps sensing the weakness of the script, tires too hard to bring some idiosyncratic color to Wally Stanton. As a result, his performance comes off as contrived.

Agatha has neither the suspense to qualify as a notable mystery nor the romance to make it as a big love story. It is one of those quaint movies which resides in the never-never land between the hits and the duds.