Oliver Twist (DVD)
A plucky, rather than passive, Oliver and a kosher Fagin are just two of the novel twists in this 2007 adaptation of Charles Dickens's oft-filmed tale. Dickens purists may carp about some liberties taken with the book, but after all, in the musical version, Fagin exited stage right singing instead of meeting the more dire fate Dickens devised. And faithful or not, it's still a ripping yarn rich with incident and populated by some of Dickens's most memorable characters, including young Oliver (William Miller), the put-upon orphan who goes from a cruel workhouse to the even crueler streets of London, where he falls in with Fagin (Timothy Spall) and his den of thieving urchins. Two villains impede Oliver's happiness, Tom Hardy's terrifying Bill Sikes (believe him when he says there is no one worse than he), and the despicable Edward Monks (Julian Rhind-Tutt), whose motives for wanting Oliver dead will be revealed over the course of this five-part miniseries. Sophie Okonedo gives a heartbreaking performance as Nancy, whose heart of gold is no protection against her brutal lover Sikes (who seems to care only for his bull terrier), and Adam Arnold is the Artful Dodger who takes Oliver under his wing. Originally broadcast on Masterpiece Theatre, this atmospheric production evocatively captures these worst of times for the desperate impoverished. The Dickensian despair is keenly felt, making Oliver's hard-earned happy ending all the more triumphant. There are many worthy adaptations of Oliver Twists, but this exceeds one's great expectations. --Donald Liebenson
- No restrictions in Canada
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