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Our Mutual Friend

Paul McGann , Keeley Hawes    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 18.74
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Our Mutual Friend + Tenant of Wildfell Hall
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Product Description

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The body of John Harmon, a young man returning from South Africa to claim his inheritance, is pulled from the River Thames, setting in motion the plot of Charles Dickens's darkest and most complex novel. Harmon had been expected to marry Bella Wilfer, a young woman chosen by his father, but now the Harmon fortune will go to the poor but honest Mr. Boffin and his wife. The Boffins adopt Bella, and together they begin to climb the ladder of London society, under the watchful eye of Boffin's new secretary, who may not be what he seems. Meanwhile Eugene Wrayburn, an idle young lawyer, falls for Lizzie Hexam, the daughter of the man who pulled Harmon's body from the river, but he must compete for her affections with the schoolmaster Bradley Headstone. As the fortunes of the characters rise and fall, the River Thames flows eternally on, the symbolic backbone of this remarkable story.

Dickens was the master of Victorian social satire, ruthlessly exposing the cruelty and absurdity that supported the strictly hierarchical class structure of the day. This superb production does his novel justice, fleshing out the satirical bones of the plot with performances that eschew caricature in favor of psychological depth. Anna Friel's Bella is wonderfully complex, her innate goodness struggling with her love of money and desire for advancement. Paul McGann, as the lawyer Wrayburn, is also superb, wrestling with the implications of his feelings for Lizzie. And of course, this being Dickens and the BBC, there's a terrific supporting cast, including Timothy Spall as the melancholy articulator of skeletons, Mr. Venus. At six hours, Our Mutual Friend is a long production, but not a moment too long. A mystery, a love story, a critique of the pursuit of wealth and status, this is perhaps the best adaptation of Dickens ever to be committed to film. --Simon Leake


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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow Feb. 27 2008
Format:DVD
For the first 20 minutes of this film, I thought, "Oh no, this is going to be one of those dark, gloomy Dickens tales," and I almost gave up on it. I'm so glad I didn't, because before long I was glued to the screen, and it stayed with me for days after seeing it. Beautifully acted, masterfully directed, it's a gem and now ranks as one of my favourite films of all time.
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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Hidden BBC Gem Jan. 28 2008
By Erin
Format:DVD
I have been systematically working through many of the wonderful period dramas that the BBC has to offer and I was pleasantly surprised by their version of "Our Mutual Friend", which was Charles Dickens's last novel (and, dare I say, one of his best). There are many interesting plotlines that are all connected to each other through the "mutual friend", John Harmon (subtly yet beautifully played by Steven Mackintosh). All of the actors are somewhat lesser known, but I believe that this only enhances their performances, making them able to become fully immersed in their respective characters. I especially loved the romantic story that developed between Bella (a young Anna Friel at her feisty best) and John, as well as Keeley Hawes' portrayal as a poor working-class girl. Overall it was a wonderful adaptation, providing social commentary on Victorian England, romance, mystery, and danger, with characters that you can't resist falling in love with.
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55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Rendered Sept. 8 2006
Format:DVD
I got this DVD in a box set and, not knowing the story (mea culpa), I watched all the others and kept this one for a long rainy week-end. Why didn't it pour before? It was the best of the lot! I was completely taken by this story! Need I say I got the book and read it with sheer delight? This story is fantastic, the dialogues are clever and the acting is really first-rate. Particularly worth mentioning is Anna Friel. She is spot-on and so believeable in this part that you'd think it had been written (by Dickens himself) especially for her. One must not forget the very touching Stephen Mackintosh. This man is able to convey so much with a single look, and he has that rare quality: he makes you care even before the plot unfolds and you understand what motivates his character to act a certain way. I've been watching it many times over since my first viewing, and I always see something new because all the other characthers are so well portrayed (no big names, only incredibly good actors, that's what I love about the BBC, they'd rather have an unknown who is perfectly cast rather than a miscast star just to "get the ratings").
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars by alta May 10 2010
Format:DVD
This movie is unforgetable. The plot is intense, the romance is a pleasure and the acting is superb! I highly recommend this for anyone who values an extremely well done period drama.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging and intriguing, intelligent and fun July 16 2004
Format:VHS Tape
I love this movie. I first saw it on PBS, and only because a family member made me do it. I'm not a PBS'er by nature, but once I got into this, I was hooked. This is a Dickens' novel that I can't believe I'd never heard of before, because it's easily one of his best. It contrasts two segments of old English society, in typical Dicken's style. The "dustmen" earn their living from "dust" - sort of the old English equivalent of junkyards, but worse - the dead bodies cast into the river. Dustmen go through their pockets and scavange old estates to sell off their loot for income. The story opens with an intriguing murder mystery. In the confusion, one dustmen and his wife inherit a large sum of money and find themselves in high society and trying to cope. But ... whose money is it really? Who are their real new - and old - friends? And while these folks - the Boffins - are main characters, they are, by no means, the only ones. Along the way there are two major romantic stories that weave throughout and form the core of the story. But this is not just a "chick flick", it's a brilliant study of old 19th century British culture. The story includes some rather enchanting surprises. And the number of very original and interesting characters are funny, heartbreaking, insightful, inspiring, maddening, and more.
One suggestion: some of the British accents are hard to make out. I put the "closed caption" feature on my TV so I could read what the characters were saying. Makes it a lot easier to understand some of the more extreme English accents.
All the acting is top-notch, but one acting job bears note: Anna Friel is brilliant in this film.
I've watched my tape many times, all six hours of it. I love it. SO GET IT ALREADY!
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5.0 out of 5 stars So Splendid It Hurts! April 29 2004
Format:VHS Tape
This production is so popular in our home that we set aside time once a year to savor it... no more, or it might get too familiar and that would be, appropriate in Dickensian terms, a tragedy! The actors truly become their roles. Six hours isn't a minute too long. I always feel a poignant regret when it's over..."not so soon?"
The plot keeps its suspense on several levels (romantic, physical, financial, political) to the end, and is full of exquisite moments that make your heart stop: when Bella asks John Harmon by the fireplace to "stop watching me, stop judging me"; when the pathetic schoolmaster Bradley Headstone tells Lizzie in the cemetery that he is under her power; when Lizzie and Eugene meet in the summer meadow; when Bella is under the impression that John is being shamed by Mr. Boffin; and when Eugene plays on Lizzie's good nature to get her to accept his offer of schooling. The dialogue is so well-rendered, one wonders if it is possible for this movie to be an improvement upon the book, in taking the story's personalities and emotions to a higher level than even Dickens imagined.
Costumes: lovely (Bella's especially). Sets: certainly satisfactory. Music: haunting (and a bit repetitious). Outdoor scenes: darn good for BBC (why did it take so long anyway for British cameras to film clear outdoor scenes?) But the acting outshines these all, and it alone could float this production (as it does in the Dalton-Clarke BBC version of "Jane Eyre"). My favorite characters (each to be savored like a dessert, frankly) are Eugene Wrayburn, Bella Wilfer, Mrs. Boffin, Mortimer Lightwood and Lizzie Hexam.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great classic
Published 15 days ago by Genevieve Neil
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great movie.
Published 17 days ago by Mary Wiseman
5.0 out of 5 stars l'Amour finit toujours par triompher
Cette histoire reflète très bien l'époque et est très bien faite avec toutes les conventions et les interdits.. Read more
Published 2 months ago by estelle cazelais
5.0 out of 5 stars Switch Your Brain On
Even though it is now a bit dated, this is one of the best adaptations to film of any Dickens story I've ever seen. Read more
Published 2 months ago by just a little bookworm
5.0 out of 5 stars Brit Lit TV
Once again the Brits come through with a quality Dickens! This production is most memorable for its considerable array of character parts all ably portrayed from Britain's... Read more
Published 6 months ago by McTwachle
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great to watch.
Published 6 months ago by Jeanine Reeves
5.0 out of 5 stars great
I enjoyed this movie very much. The quality is great for not being Blue-ray. I like anything BBC puts out.
Published 9 months ago by Susan Domio
5.0 out of 5 stars Class Dickens
If you love to lose yourself for a few hours in a great story with great acting then you can't beat this really. It's great. The Brits are the best actors in the world.
Published 12 months ago by LisaG
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb
The production was perfect and perfectly cast, and the
DVD quality was excellent. Charles Dickens certainly
knew how to weave a tale that included the underbelly
of... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Mo
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit too dark
British programs are always good no matter what but this one is
a bit dark but still quite good.
Video quality is poor, too dark all the way through
Published 14 months ago by Jeni Calder
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