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Our Mutual Friend
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Our Mutual Friend (Charles Dickens) (DVD)
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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The greatest flaw is that this version is far to short to do justice to the story. The first version took 9 hours; here they try to squeeze the story into 2, and it's a mistake. Important characters are eliminated or have almost nothing to do. Even the main characters are not allowed to show us who they really are. Subplots are entirely missing. There's no time to develop any tension over Mr. Boffin's personality change or Lizzy's disappearance.
Nor is the acting up to the level of the first version. In particularly, I wanted to give Stephen MacIntosh some Prozac! His John Rokesmith was so passive and depressed, I could hardly bear him. The actor who played Eugene was too blithe and showed none of Eugene's inner torment. Most of all, I missed Leo McKern's Mr. Boffin. He brought the character to life exactly as written.
I won't buy this version or ever see it again. I will just read the book and keep hoping that someday, I'll be able to see the McKern version again.
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!
Most recent customer reviews
Disc was faulty. Kept stopping and starting. Episode 2 stopped and would not restart.
Very disappointing. Returned November 15, 2015
Mr. Boffin is the best.
This is such a breath of fresh air - a weekend with a happier Dickens :)
Cette histoire reflète très bien l'époque et est très bien faite avec toutes les conventions et les interdits.. Read morePublished 19 months ago by estelle cazelais
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 morePublished 20 months ago by just a little bookworm