Nicholas Nickleby (2002) Review
(More customer reviews)Charles Dickens- love him or hate him, you must admit that there was never anyone like him. His books are full of social critiques, melodramatic romances, characters so eccentric that they border on crazy and of course jaw dropping coincidences. The books are also wildly entertaining.
There has been a revival of Dickens lately in the form of TV mini-series and Nicholas Nickleby is the latest. The title character has just lost his father in death and now, in his late teens, he must find a way to support and protect his sweet sister Kate and somewhat silly mother. Their only relative is their uncle, the greedy and cold Ralph Nickleby.
Ralph gets Nicholas a job as a teacher in Yorkshire and Kate a job assisting a dressmaker. Here is where the main problems of the story come into play. Both Kate and Nicholas have the same problems, they are too good looking and talented. That may seem like no problem but they have no money and their equals in station are jealous of them. Also, they have to fend off unwelcome advances at every turn. The young actors playing Kate and Nicholas manage to make their characters good without being saccarine, a challenge to say the least.
The Yorkshire school where Nicholas is sent is a horror, the boys are abused particularly the silent waif Smike. Nicholas befriends Smike and then protects him from a beating. Forced to escape with Smike, Nicholas is disowned by his uncle for being ungrateful. He is told that if he sees his sister and mother again, Ralph will throw them into the street. Nicholas agrees to leave but swears vengeance if Kate or his mother suffer in any way at Ralph's hands.
This is pretty much how the movie goes, more and more problems come up and the characters escape by the skin of their teeth. The rivalry between Nicholas and Ralph is very well acted and one of the highlights of this miniseries.
Dickens purists will doubtlessly complain about the many cuts that had to be made due to time constraints but they were needed for the film to run smoothly. All in all, this is a very good adaptation that does not modernize the tale too much. (This has been a problem in far too many adaptions of the classics, over-modernization)
There are abductions, rescues, duels, chases, forced marriages, and one BIG suprise ending. (no Dickens novel is complete without a murder/attempted murder, a suicide and a suprise ending)
If you are looking for an old fashioned soaper, this is it. I could not reccommend it for children since some of the abuses at the school are rather disturbing. However, this is how things were in the worse schools in Dickens's time and it is rather an eye-opener. I would say in American ratings, this movie ranges from a PG to a PG-13 so parents will have to make their decisions accordingly.
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A commence, brutal and passionate take of greed and love in Victorian England. A top-notch cast of veteran actors and rising young newcomers shines in a lavish new British production of the Charles Dickens classic. The hero, a penniless young gentleman, struggles to make his way in the world and protect his mother and sister, meeting up with the worst and best of humanity along the way. Charles Dance (The Jewel in the Crown) stars as Ralph Nickleby, with James D'Arcy (Rebel Heart) as Nicholas and Sophia Myles (Mansfield Park) as his beautiful sister, Kate. Other standouts include Lee Ingleby (Ever After) as Smike, Nicholas' faithful companion, and Dominic West (28 Days) as the lecherous Sir Mulberry Hawk.