- TV Mini Series
A young woman moves to 17th century Amsterdam and hires a mysterious local miniaturist to furnish the dollhouse she received from her merchant husband as a present, but the lifelike miniatur... Read allA young woman moves to 17th century Amsterdam and hires a mysterious local miniaturist to furnish the dollhouse she received from her merchant husband as a present, but the lifelike miniatures somehow start eerily foreshadowing her fate.A young woman moves to 17th century Amsterdam and hires a mysterious local miniaturist to furnish the dollhouse she received from her merchant husband as a present, but the lifelike miniatures somehow start eerily foreshadowing her fate.
Its 2017 adaptation does a very respectable job adapting it. There is a lot to admire and there are not a lot of adaptations that manage to be faithful in most detail and the spirit of the source material without being too faithful. 'The Miniaturist' manages this obstacle very well. It is easy to see why it won't click with some viewers. For a BBC period drama (or any kind of television period drama for that matter), it is quite unconventional, the setting is not one seen a lot, it's not adapted from the work of a famous novelist like Charles Dickens or Jane Austen, it's a slow burner and there are a few scenes not for the faintest of hearts.
'The Miniaturist' is not perfect. Telling who is who in the supporting roles is not easy at first, that and that it never quite overcomes the book's characterisation shallowness (Johannes did seem underdeveloped at first, and the supporting roles are fairly sketchy other than how they serve to the story and any important events), are the first half's only real problems for me.
Second half is very compelling and quality is extremely high throughout, but not everything felt resolved enough. The miniaturist explanation seemed half-baked, confused and needed more time than it had to explain it properly (flashbacks may have helped perhaps) and a couple of subplots like the sugar one didn't feel tied up enough and still felt hung open by the slightly abrupt end.
However, 'The Miniaturist' is hugely successful everywhere else. Visually it is quite an achievement. It's sumptuously shot, atmospherically lit and the period detail is like a puritan era-set/Rembrandt painting come to vivid life. The mix of austere and not-so-austere (with flashes of brighter colours in Nella's costuming) costumes was striking. The doll's house was beautifully designed and suitably mysterious, while the miniatures were exquisitely eerie.
Music score was understated yet hypnotic. The dialogue provoked thought and intrigued without letting go. It is very stirring and taut in the trial scene too. Where the 'The Miniaturist' (2017) really succeeds too is in the atmosphere, again advantaged by the source material. The story unfolds in a slow-burner way but the mysteriousness, subtle tension, eeriness and dark dread to me it didn't feel ponderous. The climactic moments are quite powerful, and, even though one wishes they could have gotten to know the characters more, it is hard not to feel that the outcome is an injustice.
Direction is atmospheric and draws out uniformly great performances from the cast. In particular Romola Garai, a revelation in a formidable but complex roles. Anya Taylor-Joy enchants and affects as Nella, avoiding making her too passive, while Alex Hassell is brooding and charismatic, particularly telling in the trial scene where Johannes makes a very persuasive case for himself. Hayley Squires is a spirited Cornelia while Geoffrey Streatfield brings authority to Frans, a character that part of you hates.
Overall, very well crafted and very admirable. 7.5/10 Bethany Cox
- Jan 2, 2018