Young Nicholas (Charlie Hunnam) and his family enjoy a comfortable life, until Nicholas' father (Andrew Havill) dies and the family is left penniless. Nicholas, his sister Kate (Romola Garai) and mother (Stella Gonet) venture to London to seek help from their Uncle Ralph (Christopher Plummer), but Ralph's only intentions are to separate the family and exploit them. Nicholas is sent to a school run by the cruel, abusive and horridly entertaining Mr. Wackford Squeers (Jim Broadbent). Eventually, Nicholas runs away with schoolmate Smike (Jamie Bell), and the two set off to reunite the Nickleby family.
At the request of production designer Eve Stewart, writer and director Douglas McGrath advanced the time from the 1830s to the 1850s, so she could incorporate elements of the Industrial Revolution in her design plans. See more »
As Nicholas and Madeleine kiss for the first time, the angle of his head in relation to hers changes instantly across several cuts. See more »
What happens when the light first pierces the dark dampness in which we have waited? We are slapped and cut loose. If we are lucky, someone is there to catch us and persuade us that we are safe. But are we safe? What happens if, too early, we lose a parent? That party on whom we rely for only everything? Why, we are cut loose again and we wonder, even dread whose hands will catch us now? There once lived a man named Nicholas Nickleby...
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On Ilkla Moor Baht 'at
Traditional Yorkshire folk song; sung to the Methodist hymnal tune "Cranbrook" (1805) (uncredited), written by 'Thomas Clark'
Performed by Kevin McKidd (uncredited), Helen Coker (uncredited), and Jim Broadbent (uncredited)
Sung by John Browdie and Tilda while on their honeymoon in a London public house, accompanied by Mr. Wackford Squeers See more »
Historical drama doesn't have to be this dull...
The main thing that this movie suffers from is that it has been condensed to an almost absurd degree. The copy that sits on my shelf clocks in at over 900 pages, written by Charles Dickens with great energy and humor. Director (and frequent Woody Allen collaborator) Douglas McGrath trims the story down to a commercial length, and revs up the pace to an astonishing degree. This film seems like it is in a hurry to get to the closing credits, which in one sense is great because it's not very good.
The movie begins with Young Nicholas (Charlie Hunnam) and his family enjoying a comfortable, idyllic life. The idyll comes to an end when Nicholas's father dies, leaving the family bankrupt. Nicholas, his sister and mother journey to London to seek help from their Uncle Ralph (Christopher Plummer), but Ralph's only goal is to separate the family and take advantage of them. Nicholas is sent to teach at a ramshackle school run by the merciless Wackford Squeers (Jim Broadbent). Eventually, Nicholas runs away with schoolmate Smike (Jamie Bell), and the two set off to bring the Nickleby family back together.
There are some good elements. Christopher Plummer is worth watching as the wicked uncle. Nathan Lane is interesting. Dame Edna as his wife is fun to watch, but by and large the film is beige. Just average. In the title role of Nicholas is Charlie Hunnam a British television actor who made his name on Queer As Folk, and unfortunately he's not very interesting. As the central character you have to want to watch him. You have to care about his character. You have to want him to succeed. You have to want him to marry the right girl. You have to want all that for him, and you don't.
The problem is that while you are traveling with him you meet all sorts of characters that are far more interesting than the central character. You want to say, Nick, you go on. We're going to stay here for a while.'
Historical drama doesn't have to be this dull. Dickens is brimming with juicy characters and interesting plots, if only the filmmakers had trusted the source material, a book that has been delighting people since 1839.
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