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Twist
Twist
Actors: Nick Stahl, Joshua Close, Gary Farmer, Michele-Barbara Pelletier, Tygh Runyan
Director: Jacob Tierney
Genres: Drama, Gay & Lesbian
R     2004     1hr 37min

Twist is a calmly lucid re-telling of Charles Dickens' classic Oliver Twist, updated to current times and moved out of the poor house and onto the streets of Toronto. Told from the point of view of The Artful Dodger (Nick ...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Nick Stahl, Joshua Close, Gary Farmer, Michele-Barbara Pelletier, Tygh Runyan
Director: Jacob Tierney
Genres: Drama, Gay & Lesbian
Sub-Genres: Love & Romance, Gay & Lesbian
Studio: Strand Releasing
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 10/19/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 37min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Dickens Artfully Dodged
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 10/26/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"It seems everyone knows the Charles Dickens' novel 'Oliver Twist', if not from reading it, viewing old movie forms, or from seeing the long-running musical adaptation 'Oliver!'. And knowing that Dickens had a penchant for exposing forced child labor and abuse in the darker parts of London's seedy side, creating affecting tales of woe, only to find a happy ending in the last pages - knowing that may bring surprise at the adaptation of Dickens by screenwriter/director Jacob Tierney.

But TWIST is a contemporary look at issues that persist, this time around the boys housed and fed by Fagin and kept in line by Bill Sykes are not pickpockets but hustlers. This adaptation is as searingly disturbing as was Dickens' novel when it was published: runaway boys in Toronto find a means of existence by hustling johns on the cold streets and turning over their earnings to Fagin who in turn serves as their pimp. The evil Bill Sykes is retained in this version, cleverly off screen in visibility, but his misdeeds are still in view in his drug dealing and his abuse of the boy's kind 'surrogate mother', Nancy.

So the basic story remains intact and the message of the original is as tough to see, but the real difference is in Tierney's refusal to provide a happy ending - a decision that truly makes this excellent film more powerful.

The main character in TWIST is Dodge (the Artful Dodger) (Nick Stahl in a superb performance that grabs your heart and never lets go) who does his hustling but also is addicted to heroin. He befriends another runaway lad named Oliver (Joshua Close) who needs shelter and love and is drawn into the Fagin stable. Fagin (Gary Farmer) is a multifaceted character who at once keeps his boys in line out of fear of Bill Sykes' demands, yet has a very soft spot for his charges. The boys (including Charley played by Moti Yona) often meet at the Three Cripples Diner where Nancy (Michele-Barbara Pelletier) serves them food and caring, despite her omnipresent physical evidence of Bill Sykes' abuse.

Dodge looks after his protégé Oliver, introduces him to the world of hustling, and nurtures him in a way that reflects Dodge's own needs. Oliver falls in love with Dodge but the feelings and approaches are one-sided. We finally discover a bit of Dodge's past when his older brother David (Tygh Runyan) visits and tries unsuccessfully to resolve old family problems (an abusive father). Their midnight antagonistic confrontations supply some of the more memorable moments in the film.

The seeds of corruption inherent in this bad life play to many tragedies and disclosing them would rob the film of its power. The circle of unfortunate circumstances comes round and we are left feeling deeply about these unlucky kids and their lifestyle. One of the many reasons this film works is the director's refusal to include gratuitous scenes of sexual encounters, a technique that makes those obvious encounters all the more powerful because they are left to the imagination of the audience.

The cinematography captures all the filth, despair, cold and hopelessness of the back streets of Toronto. This is a tough film to take, but one that makes a major impact and should be seen to appreciate the extremes to which our runaway kids go to survive in times of the lack of meaningful love. Recommended."
Twisted!!
Boggman! | Laguna Hills, CA | 06/14/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Poor naïve Oliver. Mommy has passed away and he never knew his daddy. After a series of misfortunate events, he has found himself to be a 16 year old orphan/ runaway on the streets of Toronto. Lucky for him, while hanging out in a local café, he is discovered by Dodge, who seems to have a little experience in recognizing poor lost souls with no where to go.

Dodge is rather street wise, after all; he has been pounding the pavement nightly for quite sometime as a hustler himself. He offers Oliver some food and a place to stay, which Oliver gladly accepts.

Dodge and a few of his cohorts live in a ramshackle abandoned building with their "supervisor" Fagin watching there every move. Fagin reports to Bill (whom we never see); who runs his stable of boys & girls with an iron fist.

Dodge also has quite a nasty heroin addiction, which he relies on to get the job done every night. Dodge decides to train Oliver in his wicked ways, which the young Oliver seems more than up to the task of learning.

So is the story of Jacob Tierney's adaptation of the classic Dickens novel "Oliver Twist". This is NOT the Oliver that I remember growing up; but it is still a decent movie nonetheless.

The movie chronicles the lives of these young men & women in a gritty and depressing fashion. The movie centers around Dodge, who is played quite skillfully by Nick Stahl. Oliver (Joshua Close) just happens to be the catalyst that could bring the whole business crashing down.....

Will he survive the clutches of Dodge, Fagin, and Bill? Well, you'd have to watch to find out for yourself.

Dodge himself is quite an interesting character, and we get to find out about his family background and what has led him up to this point. It's quite a downer of a story, but an intriguing one as well.

If you like movies that depict stories of sexual abuse and addiction, then "Twist" should be right up your alley. However, there are scenes in "Twist" (one in particular that is SO disturbing and so pervasive that it's barely watch able) that really make the movie hard to stomach.

The film is finely acted, written, and directed. "Twist" balances a fine line between reality and sickness in our culture. Worth seeing once; but this reviewer would have trouble watching Twist again due to some of it's content (especially the scene mentioned above). Some things, I do not feel need to be depicted just quite yet on film; no matter how brutally honest their intent may be.

Recommended, but only for those audiences who like their movies harsh and unforgiving. By the time Twist has concluded, this reviewer doubts that you'll be asking "Please sir, may I have some more"?"
Interesting Twist
Kali | 03/09/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This unusual adaptation of Charles Dicken's Oliver Twist is a gritty, yet touching story, not unlike the original. It takes place in a small Canadian town and revolves around a gruop of young male prostitutes. The characters though not entirely three-dimensional, do well in creating a sense of danger and desperation. Nick Stahl is as usual very convincing and his portrayal of Dodger is rather moving. It's a slow paced thriller with nice little plot twists ;-)"
Good film, convincing actors
Holden | Ontario Canada | 10/20/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Okay let me begin by stating that if you are looking for a film that remakes Dicken's classic, don't hold your breath with Twist. Here the urchins are hustlers, not pick pockets. Aside from the names (our lead characters are Oliver and Dodge, with their pimp being Fagan) the similarities are limited. Although, Twist is faithful to the social reformist urgency which is key in the writings of Charles Dickens.

Having said that, I really thought this was a good film. It is not uplifting at all, there is little or no redemption, but the characters are very real, the acting is very good and you will become emotionally involved. You will care about these characters by the end, they have depth. I won't spoil the film for you but there are three scenes that will completely break your heart, two involving Oliver and one involving Dodge.

The film is not graphic in anything other than subject matter. The scenes on the cold winter streets of Toronto made me shiver (anyone in Northern Cities will understand). The film is just the right length. I would recommend that you at least rent this film. The DVD has a commentary with the Director and Nick Stahl that is nice, so you may want to own it also."