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Our Mutual Friend

Paul McGann , Keeley Hawes    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 18.74 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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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
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
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
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
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 Switch Your Brain On June 12 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
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. The breadth of acting is incredible - each member of the cast does a phenomenal job upholding their own unique character, so that the film truly does display ever facet of human character. The story has some dark subplots, certainly, but they are justly dealt with, and make the story rise up all the higher in the end. It is not a film that you can sit back and sleepily absorb after a long day at work - it is one that will engage you, and that you have to process. And that is what makes it so great.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brit Lit TV Feb. 26 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
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 considerable stable of fine character actors. As the revue says 19th C London is also a character of this tale and we can positively smell the smog, feel the ooze of the Thames mud, and experience a time now long gone. One of my favourite Dickens renderings.
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5.0 out of 5 stars great Nov. 26 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this movie very much. The quality is great for not being Blue-ray. I like anything BBC puts out.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Class Dickens Aug. 28 2013
By LisaG
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
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.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great to watch.
Published 5 months ago by Jeanine Reeves
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 11 months ago by Fan
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 13 months ago by Jeni Calder
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie
It is long, but it is well worth it to buy..... Great storyline and you really get involved with all the characters
Published 16 months ago by Tammy Greenway
5.0 out of 5 stars Love love love this movie
I hadn't heard of this movie before i purchased it. I bought it solely on the recommendations of other reviews i had read. And i wasn't disappointed. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Liz
3.0 out of 5 stars Our Mutual Friend
I found this movie dark on the screen in places and sometimes a bit difficult to follow. True to Dickens however. Overall I enjoyed the film.
Published 18 months ago by Louise Bowolin
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific
Great acting! Great narrative! Dickens doesn't disappoint. He covers a variety of themes and has an array of intriguing characters- likeable and appalling. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Izzy
5.0 out of 5 stars Great stuff
Acting is superb, as is the costumes. The production, however, seemed a little flat but is easily overlooked if one is looking for a film production of Dickens.
Published 20 months ago by Cattieluver
5.0 out of 5 stars Dickens DVD
Totally loved this DVD series. I have found that watching the video helps me when I then read the book to be better able to follow the "cast of thousands" that Dickens likes to... Read more
Published on Sept. 20 2010 by Denise Sugden
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