2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Not an especially clever Twist,
This review is from: Oliver Twist (BBC)  [DVD] (DVD)
As a piece of entertainment, this is in fact not at all bad; it is pacy, well-filmed and generally well-acted. There is much to enjoy. If, however, you have ever read the book or, indeed, if you have ever seen the David Lean film version, you will come away feeling decidedly short-changed and even a little bit angry, especially after watching the accompanying documentary, in which the adapter and the director seem to suggest that they can improve on Dickens; for Heaven's sake, why does it have to be relevant to today? Surely Dickens's appeal is that it is, well, Dickensian? The liberties taken with the plot are grievous enough (even though the rewriting of the Monks sub-story is effective enough in a soap opera kind of way), but it is the way in which Dickens's wonderful grotesques and eccentrics have been presented which niggles the most; even brilliant character actors like Timothy Spall and Gregor Fisher are prevented from bringing their parts to glorious life by an adapter and director who think that they know better than Dickens and the actors have, of course, their moments, they compare unfavourably to portrayers of the roles in previous versions. Mr Spall is even physically wrong for Fagin (too young, too corpulent); he would have made a fine Beadle; I suspect that the director considered this to be casting "outside of the box", but it does not quite come off. On the plus side, the young actor playing Oliver is for once not the simpering wimp of so many versions and Edward Fox offers a much more multi-layered Mr Brownlow than we have come to expect. The most striking performances, however, come from Tom Hardy as a psychotic Bill Sykes and Sophie Okenedo as a black Nancy; played by younger actors than usual, this really works and one can sense that there is a strange but very real kind of love at the heart of this abusive relationship. Mr Hardy is brilliant throughout; a pity, therefore, that his death scene is so badly botched and unnecessarily rewritten. As I say, this isn't bad, but if you want just one "Oliver Twist" for your collection, then I would go for the David Lean film instead.