Publicity Stills of "Oliver Twist"
(Courtesy from Shaw)

Genre: Drama/Family
Director: Roman Polanski
Starring: Ben Kingsley, Barney Clark
RunTime: 2 hrs 10 mins
Released By: Shaw
Rating: PG

Official Website: http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/olivertwist

Opening Day: 10 November 2005

Synopsis :

An adaptation of the classic Dickens tale, where an orphan meets a pickpocket on the streets of London. From there, he joins a household of boys who are trained to steal for their master.

Movie Review:

More than a decade. That was how long since my first read of the classic novel “Oliver Twist” by one of the greatest authors, Charles Dickens. The fascination to watch the various interesting, unforgettable characters (name a few: Mr. Sowerberry, Mr Bumble, Mr Brownlow, brutal Bill Sykes, Fagin, of course Oliver) from the paperwork being instantaneously brought to life on big screen goes beyond word description. Let this cast of wonderful actors, young and old, though of less fame here, impress you greatly with their performance and perhaps lead you to pick up the book to read it.

Director Roman Polanski, with his screenplay writer Ronald Harwood and production designer Allan Starski (all formerly behind award-winning “The Pianist”), once again collaborated to delight the audience with this thrilling tale of good fighting against evil. A certainly well adapted version that retains the humour with the occasional quips and surprises.

Audience would witness the class barriers, social prejudice and the unfortunate exploitation of poor people due to flawed government policy implemented in the name for the goodness, all which rotted the flourishing London city. Seems as though survival is the law of the land.

The grandeur of its upmarket Pentonville with its horse drawn carriages, myriad of cobblestone streets and the squalor of the slum area Jacob’s Island in the mid 19th Century were successfully recreated with the spectacular sets.

The central character, Oliver Twist, a poor, miserable orphan boy is played by Barney Clark. Looking at his teary gaze of innocence and honesty, hearing his little voice quivering with fear, audience would helplessly fall into the depths of his sadness and feel for him.

The rest of the young actors, artful Doger (Harry Eden), Charley Bates (Lewis Chase), part of the gang of pickpockets, led by the sinister Fagin (Sir Ben Kingsley, best supporting actor in “Schindler’s List”), are equally outstanding. Sparks of chemistry between young Barney and aged Sir Kingsley is truly evident, especially in the few precious yet vital scenes that they shared. Director Polanski portrays another side of Fagin, slightly different from the novel. Fagin was in fact a sympathetic soul himself, though he was responsible for training the boys into pickpockets so that he could live off their loot. But he had the fondness for Oliver and cared for him like a father, and could have left him behind but chose not to.

Fagin and murderous Bill Sykes (Jamie Foreman, thuggish constable in “Sleepy Hollow”) both belonged to the seedy underworld of crime. Yet both served a contrast. Fagin was a helpless criminal, wedged in the grey of goodness and badness while Sykes represented the extreme evil side, robbing and killing mercilessly. However, Fagin ultimately still needed to pay for his fair share of misdeed.

“Oliver Twist” brings a live dimension with an arguably difference, of all the seemingly familiar characters with a touching sentiment. Let it be a refreshing recollection or exploring experience.

Movie Rating:

(Let this touching "Oliver Twist" be a refreshing recollection or exploring experience for you)

Review by Alicia Tee

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