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A gay re-telling of Charles Dickens' classic Oliver Twist. Updated to current times, moved out of the poor house and onto the streets, the tale is told from the point of Dickens' character, Artful Dodger--now Dodge. The prosaically beautiful Oliver falls into the hands of down-and-out young men. Dodge takes the young man under his wing and instructs him in the unforgiving arts of drug abuse and prostitution. As Oliver's innocence dissolves, both young men confront inner and outer demons and, strangely, it is Dodge who finds he cannot escape his past. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
I'd love to invite all viewers of this film to watch it again and try to exact what made it so good. There's the obvious: a great script, great acting from Nick Stahl and "Fagin", great music to paint the moods and a subject matter that holds its grip 'til the end.
But there's the not so obvious. Why were we so absorbed by this film in a way that is quite unusual? Maybe, it's because it's not the monthly Hollywood thriller. But maybe we could watch it again and realise that the way it was shot is the main reason why we were glued to the screen.
For those who like cinematography as art, you can find certain clues of what will happen in the way the story is told from the very first scene: wide angles, proscenium-like framing, rock-steady shots, events not depicted but imagined, lingering images of the gritty places we go with the characters. All these things are unusual in recent film-making (not only American, but from any Country). It's difficult to do and very effective in Twist.
The lighting was kept to its minimum so all the darkness and cold that actually surrounded the real action is transmitted. The possible close-ups were discarded for the framed versions of the character and his surroundings, giving the whole idea of the situation, and not only of that of the character himself.
This film is a daring and very intelligent approach to a new way of doing things. From the adaptation of the novel and the creation of a modern Toronto-from-London-filth-town-to-gritty-city approach to the use of 16mm film instead of the common 35. The selection of format that wouldn't give the super-wide view of Panavision and the blow-up process of the 16mm negative to the theatrical 35mm release, make of this film a truly new way of looking at things. Even the use of sound. When someone is far away from the camera, so is the sound (with some exceptions on several street shots). This makes you get even closer to what's happening, because you must be really attentive if you don't want to lose a word.
All in all, I think this is a film that rose the bar for newcomers and offered a lot to analise, something we now can do in the comfort of home.
Last reflection: Nick Stahl is as chilling as he was in A Man Without a Face, remember?
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