Newsnight Review discussed the latest Dickens film adaptation, Nicholas Nickleby.
Germaine, did any of the darkness of this
Dickens translate to the scene apart from
I don't think... I'm not so sure about the
sets. I found the sets sometimes very tricky
and quite obtrusive. One of the odd things
about going to see it was that I realised the
children are coming along to see it and
their mothers were bringing them along
because it was Dickens and it would be
good for them and that is what it is. It's
taken Dickens sentimentality and
moralism and not anything else beside.
You see the relationships without sex,
you have Smike and Nicholas and that is
not meant to be a homosexual
attachment, even though Smike is a
disabled stalker. And you have got the
noble girls who were keeping themselves
pure because they know that they want
to have a proper monogamous married
life. At the end you have a sermon about
family building, don't worry children if
your family are not quite right because
you can make a family out of leftovers
and it will be fine. This time I had my
finger down my throat.
You had your fingers pressed to your eyes
and your throat!
I thought the sets were great and you go
to London and look at the pigs' heads and
ducks' heads, it was revolting. As Germaine
said, the main character and the guy who
played Smike, the kid from Billy Elliot,
they were so healthy and looked like they
walked straight out of Pop Idol! It was like
Dickens light. The worst bit was when
Nickleby and Smike were two tramps
sitting by star-light looking into each
other's eyes, on what would have been
a windy and harsh Yorkshire Moor. That
bit made me want to puke as well. Apart
from that the acting of the character acting
was fantastic and Timothy Spall was
brilliant. I would look forward to seeing
it at Christmas because of that.
Let's have a look at the some of the finer
characters in Nicholas Nickleby. Of course,
Alan Cumming is in his element because
he likes to dress up. Two of the best
relationships were Christopher Plummer
and Tom Courtenay.
CHARLES SAUMAREZ SMITH:
They were both extremely good. I'm
embarrassed to say I rather enjoyed it, it's
good Friday entertainment. Providing you
don't think of it in relation to Dickens, but
as an extract based on Dickens in an extremely
loose way, I think it's perfectly acceptable and
rather beautifully filmed in some parts and
some of the character acting was good. I
would be happy to watch it at Christmas.
All kinds of English films have wonderful
cameo parts played by very skilled interpreters,
it would be astonishing if they didn't have
that in this film. It is also astonishing they
do have Barry Humphries in it, in two parts.
It's not fair to the subtlety and depth of the
rest of the representations. I bet the actors
had actually read more of the Dickens than,
in some ways, the cinematographers had.
They actually produced the depth that
Cherable brothers are wonderful. They are
terrific. My favourite is Juliet Stevenson,
she is just so revolting!
CHARLES SUAMAREZ SMITH:
Nicholas Nickleby himself, I thought,
was very weak.
There was one good thing about him being
poncy, when he was violent it was genuinely
CHARLES SAUMAREZ SMITH:
He wasn't violent. He took his