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Nicholas Nickleby
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Nicholas Nickleby More at IMDbPro »

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Lovely film, well worth watching

9/10
Author: Jayne Sherman (imdbfilmcricket) from Two Egg, FL
20 January 2003

As a great fan of Dickens, I am very pleased with this version of Nicholas Nickleby. It was beautifully done, from the excellent acting (with the exception of the lead) to the skillful condensation of the book's lengthy plot.

Particularly worth mentioning were several superb actors in smallish but essential parts. Timothy Spall (a great favorite of mine), Jim Broadbent and Kevin McKidd, who performed together previously in the under-noticed Topsy-Turvy (1999) were very good here as well. Juliet Stevenson, who carried Truly Madly Deeply (1991) so marvelously was delightfully despicable as the odious Mrs. Squeers. Best of an outstanding ensemble cast was Jamie Bell who gave a deeply affecting performance as Smike, although the character was written a tad less feeble-minded than usual.

The spirit and tone of the novel were faithfully captured here and I believe Mr. Dickens himself would have been pleased with this production.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Entertaining and heartwarming. Golden Globe nomination misleading; not a comedy.

8/10
Author: perlner from New York, NY
8 January 2003

If you like period dramas or Dickens movies, this one is one of the better ones in terms of accessibility and general entertainment. It has elements similar to other favorite Dickens stories, including "A Christmas Carol" and "Oliver Twist."

The story is clear, the badguys and goodguys are even clearer, and the characters are well-portrayed, with one notable exception. The cinematography is quite adept, and the sets are quite picturesque.

Charlie Hunnam is perfect for the role of Nicholas Nickleby, with his sweet and handsome face and tall, refined body. Christopher Plummer and Jim Broadbent are charming villains, and some of the supporting cast - including Dame Edna - are nothing short of brilliant. Only Anne Hathaway stands out as misplaced, with her irrepressible smile, even when she's trying to look upset. This self-awareness was admissible in "The Princess Diaries," but did not belong in a Dickens film.

The only thing I didn't get about this film was how it managed to be nominated for a Golden Globe for best musical or comedy. It's not a musical or a comedy. It's a heartwarming drama, with some occasional comic relief, but no out-loud laughs and certainly much more tragedy than comedy (and no musical numbers). Maybe the Golden Globe people didn't see it before they voted.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Elegant, Charming, and Enthralling

Author: aschaper from Torrance, CA
6 January 2003

I would have to say with all honesty that Nicholas Nickleby is one of the best films, if not the best film, of the year.

True, the film is basically an adaptation, almost word for word in some places, of Dickens' novel, yet the characters are so endearing, their struggles so real, their pain so fresh, that I had compassion for them, even for the wicked Raplh Nickleby.

On that note, I want to highly praise the work of Mr. Christopher Plummer, who so chilled my bones with his acidic hate and touched me with his broken pride and despair, that I really felt worked upon. His talent certainly earns him this consideration on my part.

Jamie Bell as Smike never failed to disappoint. He was a pitiful person to the very end, yet he still walked and hoped-and fell in love.

And of course, it's good to see Nathan Lane in something successful and well-put together at last. He was ravishing as Crummles.

I could go at length about all the other characters-but I can sum up their talents in saying that every person should see this film, and I strongly hope to see it recognized at the Academy Awards.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Wonderful performances of this strong adaption of a classic

10/10
Author: Don Azars from West Hollywood, CA USA
2 January 2003

Not only did McGrath adapt this Dickens story well, but neither the play nor the actors competed ... as is often the case with such classics. The performances were as strong as the parts, with some surprising revelations of abilities from greats such as Christopher Plummer as well as the up and coming actors like Jaime Bell. If one is usually yawning at PBS type Dickens' stories, you will be wide awake, delighting in and responding to this version. Regretfully, it is apparently booked only in Art Houses as it demands wider exposure then this. I hope various cinematic awards organizations recognize it as the type of performances and production that such awards are supposed to.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Fantastic...Go see this film!

Author: suebroberg from Los Angeles
1 January 2003

This film is a treasure. The settings, cinematography and storytelling were flawless. The master of Dickens' characters were supremely played, especially by Charlie Hunnam, Jamie Bell, Christopher Plummer and Jim Broadbent. And Nathan Lane is always truly a joy to watch. I hope this film will make it out into the mainstream, we all need more chances to see films that are well made, teach something positive, teach about life, hope and goodness, and just thoroughly entertain. This film certainly should make it onto Oscar's list.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Real characters and real places.

9/10
Author: Nigel from Hebden Bridge, United Kingdom.
15 August 2005

Nicholas Nickleby before watching this film was not a Dickens novel which appealed to me. Now I cannot wait to get my eyes on it. Having previously been a big fan of Great Expectations I personally didn't want to read any more Dickens books as I thought it could not be equalled.... obviously I was wrong.

The movie itself recreates what I imagined the England of the 1850s to be like, the squalor of the city of London, the bleakness of Yorkshire (the Dotheboys interiors and exteriors was shot at Gibson Mill, Hardcastle Craggs, Hebden Bridge, West Yorks. just 3 miles from where I live), and the beauty of the English countryside.

The characters are totally believable and fully formed. Jamie Bell as Smike just makes you want to take care of him, Charlie Hunnam makes you wish you had a brother just like Nicholas, Jim Broadbent as Squeers makes you want to beat him black and blue to teach him a lesson and Christopher Plummer as Nicholas' nasty uncle make you want to hiss and boo when he appears on screen.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Wonderful!

9/10
Author: rcaudill from Oxford, Pennsylvannia
18 August 2003

It's kind of odd to say this about a Charles Dickens movie, but Nicholas Nickleby shows viewers exactly why the American box office keeps losing ticket sales. In the film, Nicholas' father dies leaving him, his mother, and his sister to go to London and find his brother who is very rich. They ask him to help them find jobs and he does so. But, he has plans of his own. He will one day ask them to pay back everything he has helped them with because his buisness is failing. People aren't paying their money to him and it's causing him big trouble. But, for the time being, Nicholas is sent to a school in the country side to teach. There he lives with the one eyed, curel head master, and his downright evil wife. He also makes friends with the crippled "servent" and soon they both escape to have many adventures, trying to find work. Though it sounds like it could be frightfully dull, this film is not. The story really does capture you and makes you really feel for the characters. Not only that, the script was wirtten by and directed by an American, so it's not too British for the American audience. Also, this film is BEAUTIFUL. Everything from the costumes, to dialoge, to setting, and to the music. The fact that it was shut out at awards time is a grave injustuice. <P> And so we come to why I said this film teaches us what is wrong with movies today. It seems like 95% of the time, while watching a new American movie, we are simply watching. We don't feel for the people on the screen and we really could care less if they lived or died. But, in Nicholas Nickleby, all that is different. By the end of the two hours and twelve minutes (which really move by quite quickly) we feel like we have stood along side these people and shared their emotions. Very well done! (A-)

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

The very definition of goodness

9/10
Author: KatharineFanatic from United States
30 July 2003

I'm not a puritan. I believe if an adaptation manages to capture the heart and soul of the author's original vision, even if it doesn't follow it page for page, it can improve on an already excellent work. This is what I feel Douglas McGrath has done with Charles Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby, a two hour thought-provoking period film with an all-star ensemble cast of some of Britain and Hollywood's finest thespians and a climactic, unexpected, spiritual ending.

Nicholas Nickleby is only the second adaptation and directorial triumph of Douglas McGrath. Based on this and his wonderful success with Emma, I hope he continues to adapt the classics. He is one of the few directors who shows restraint when it is needed, yet does not fail to make the conflicts within the hero's life suitably obvious. He makes us loathe and hate the villains without being subjected to overly graphic material, which is far more effective and shows superior writing talents. The dialogue is poetic, wrought with wit, and always impacting. Interwoven with the deep drama, are splashes of humor -- the theatre troupe's production of Romeo & Juliet, some of the banter between Uncle Ralph and his tipsy but goodhearted clerk, even some dry reactions from the one-eyed Squeers.

Though the moments of lighthearted humor create a restful tranquility between the deep drama, this is not a comedy act. It's a compelling look at the very root of evil and the eventual downfall it brings to a man enslaved by it. Few villains have the distinction of being so purposefully cruel as Ralph Nickleby, a man who chooses to inflict pain for the sheer pleasure of it. The casting is brilliant. Chrisopher Plummer plays Ralph with such tainted pleasure that we learn to loathe him but also in the end to pity the mess he has made of his life. Charlie Hunnam, in the role of Nicholas, is exceptional; few young men can blend in with a Victorian environment. He was born to star in costume dramas. Anne Hathaway, Romola Garai (Daniel Deronda), and Jamie Bell, along with an enormous supporting cast (everyone from Nathan Lane to Nicholas Rowe) were superb. There's not a weak actor in the lot.

The hero is in every way above reproach -- he refutes lies with a swift tongue, takes compassion on his enemies, and displays justice instead of vengeance. Spiritual truths begin to bleed through the fabric of the adaptation, which also has one insightful addition by the director -- a hymn sung about God's grace and glory at a pivotal moment at the climax. I would highly recommend it to both Dickens enthusiasts and those who simply enjoy morality plays. Nicholas' virtue also encourages honorable responses from others -- after witnessing him "defend his sister's honor," another of Ralph's investors retaliates with his own disgust over the situation. We have seen him disturbed before now, but never courageous enough to speak against his partners. (A magnificent display of how not wanting to become "involved" when the issue of morality is at stake can actually lend itself to greater evils.)

What makes the story carry such weight is the fact that all of this is tied to Uncle Ralph -- we wonder at his motivations in subjecting his niece to such immoral company, in his singular cruelty, and at the surprising twist Dickens throws our way in the final half. He's a moral paradox demanding of scrutiny and his black heart burns like a pyre in the background as the story progresses. In the end, we have not only explored the empty bitterness of a life bound by self-inflicted cruelty but also seen the glowing light of virtue. The world would be a far better place if more young men were raised with the same high moral standard of honor, justice, and virtue as Nicholas Nickleby.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Compassionate

Author: staisil2 from Wisconsin
22 July 2003

Nicholas Nickleby is a compassionate movie with a dash of romance and danger. Bravo performances by Jamie Bell, Charlie Hunnum, and Christopher Plummer molded this movie into a sort of classic. 8.8 out of 10.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Wonderful adaptation...why can't more people see it?

10/10
Author: ArizWldcat from United States
18 February 2003

There are not many movies that are edifying and are also rated PG or G any more. This is just such a film. I was able to take my whole family to see it, but we had to travel to a large nearby city, where it is showing at just ONE theater (after a month of waiting to see if it would ever come up to our town). I don't understand this is on so few screens. At the 4:00 p.m. showing we went to, the theater was 3/4 full, and this was a month after its release.

Anyway, I digress. The movie was wonderfully filmed, and the performances of all involved were magnificent. Loved Charlie Hunnam, Romola Garai, Jim Broadbent, Juliet Stevenson, Jamie Bell, Sophie Thompson, Anne Hathaway, Christopher Plummer, Tom Courtenay...there were so many good performances,

I can't remember them all. My 7 year old got a little squirmy, as this is quite a long movie, but she did enjoy it (and didn't fall asleep!). My 14 year old loved it, as did my 12 year old.

It makes me very happy when a movie makes literature come alive. Douglas McGrath also did a marvelous job directing (and writing) Emma, another favorite, and he has not let us down with Nicholas Nickleby. Highly recommended.

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