Old Curiosity Shop (2007)
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Old Curiosity Shop, The (2007)(DVD)
Arriving in the wake of the BBC's sweeping Little Dorrit, ITV's The Old Curiosity Shop feels like Dickens lite (in the U.S., both productions aired as part of PBS's Masterpiece Classic). Fourteen-year-old Nell Trent (Becoming Jane's Sophie Vavasseur), one of the author's best-loved creations, lives with Grandfather (Derek Jacobi), a compulsive gambler. When he fails to make good on his debts to the gluttonous Daniel Quilp (Toby Jones), the moneylender takes over his shop and threatens to make Nell his servant, so she and Grandfather flee to the Midlands. Back in London, Quilp conspires with Dick Swiveller (Geoff Breton), a naive associate of Nell's brother, who also hopes to benefit from their return. With a price on their heads, the duo accepts help from kind strangers, like Mrs. Jarley (a delightful Zoë Wanamaker), and dodges predatory characters, like puppeteer Mr. Codlin (The Office's Martin Freeman). With the entrance of the mysterious Jacob (Adrian Rawlins), the story shifts into procedural territory. Jacob has the means to help the fugitives, but he'll have to catch up with them before poverty takes its toll. If Jacobi and Jones bring the requisite intensity to their parts, Vavasseur struggles to make Nell sufficiently empathetic, and a narrative that tries to do too much in too little time robs the ending of its intended impact. Filmed on location in atmospheric Ireland, this downbeat version of The Old Curiosity Shop is hardly a waste of time, but a more expansive interpretation would've served this material better. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
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