I love Nicholas Nickleby! exclaims Roger Ebert of this vibrant tale of intrigue, passion and revenge. And what's not to love? Brisk, sparkling (Entertainment Weekly), marvelously acted (Time) and featuring as terrific... more » an ensemble as we ve seen (The San Francisco Examiner), this Golden Globe-nominated* adaptation of Dickens masterpiece is a timeless romantic adventure you'll treasure for years! When the Nickleby family is betrayed in their hour of need, young Nicholas (Charlie Hunnam) must save the day. Join him on a remarkable journey that critics unanimously praise as a joy to watch (Leonard Maltin)!« less
Rebecca M. from COVENTRY, RI Reviewed on 10/4/2014...
I loved it. Even though I cannot stand Anne Hathaway most of the time.
0 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
William W. (wdavidw) from TYLER, TX Reviewed on 8/4/2010...
This is a really a well made movie of a Charles Dickens's story. If you like period films, romantic movies, and a movie the whole family can enjoy without bad language, this is one to pick up.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Kendra M. (KendraM) from NASHVILLE, TN Reviewed on 3/14/2008...
This came as a bit of a surprise, suffice it to say, due to the photo used on the cover. I expected less but was so pleasantly surprised!
I read Nicholas Nickleby years ago and have no plans to read it in the near future. That said, I had forgotten much of the story. It is obvious, though, that even without remembering much of the book nor the story, there is much that has been left out of the movie. No matter. What is left here is perfect. Although we may never know why Ralph Nickleby lost his ten thousand pounds just by watching the film, we understand that there must have been some behind-the-scenes scheming going on and that's perfectly fine.
Although definitely a drama, the comedic elements work so well here to lighten the desperate dark Dickensian times.
The film is perfectly cast. Charlie Hunnam as Nicholas is delightful-- moral, upright, brave. Christopher Plummer was unbelievable. Although he's not seen too much of late, it's great to see him in such a plumb role here. He's marvelous-- nasty and cruel with a small amount of humanity left in him (very small and easy to dismiss) to make him extremely complex rather than a caricature. Nathan Lane was a scene stealer and added a large dose of much needed relief from the darkness. And Jim Broadbent and Juliet Stevenson were incredible-- Juliet Stevenson especially. She delivered each of her lines with perfection. At one point, her husband, the evil Mr. Squeers, tells her that she alone could take away any man's pride more quickly than anyone else in England. Recognizing the statement for the compliment it was meant to be, she responds adoringly.
I cannot recommend this highly enough. Highly watchable! And, for younger viewers (not too young, maybe 10 and up), this is a great intro to Dickens, too.
6 of 6 member(s) found this review helpful.
Shim F. Reviewed on 2/18/2008...
This movie was sad in the start.
It got better as the movie went on.
It's a very romanic and oldish movie.
Cute and sweet.
2 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
"The very definition of goodness."
Charity Bishop | 07/03/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I can honestly say that "Nicholas Nickleby" is my favorite of Dickens' works. His sinister villain, his earnest, upright, innocent hero, and the beautiful Kate and their plight for financial independence from their evil uncle Ralph have the foundation of a classic. I've seen several adaptations, including the more faithful Bravo version, but I like this one the best. I believe Douglas McGrath, who tastefully brought "Emma" to the silver screen, has taken an already impressive work and improved on it. The movie moves at a nice pace without becoming drenched in melodrama or lingering over the "darker" side of the story; but neither does it shy away from the meaner aspects of Dickens' characters. Uncle Ralph, if possible, is even more wicked than Dickens wrote him. It does this in a perfectly tasteful and intelligent manner and also incorporates much if the sardonic humor found in the books, something I've found the Bravo adaptation lacks.In case you're unfamiliar with the story, the film revolves around the life of young Nicholas Nickleby and his sister Kate. Their father has died, leaving them in the hands of his older and much more financially-minded brother Ralph. Desiring to be rid of Nicholas, Ralph seeks him employment with Wackford Squeers, the owner of a boys' school in the north country. The institution puts on a good public face but is in reality a squalor where the boys are mistreated and abused while Squeers and his wife pocket what little income they can provide. While attempting to teach at this "school," Nicholas meets the crippled Smike, an orphan whom the Squeers keep on out of "the goodness of their hearts." Eventually his friendship with Smike will have a vast impact on not only his life, but that of his uncle Ralph as well.The casting for this film is nothing short of exquisite. Douglas McGrath isn't afraid to cast British actor but American-unknown Charlie Hunnam in the lead. The young actor has a fluid intelligence in his performance and looks ideal in a period setting. Anne Hathaway ("The Princess Diaries") plays his love interest, and "Daniel Deronda's" Romola Garai is a beautiful and sweet Kate Nickleby. Throw in Christopher Plummer (whose snarling Uncle Ralph should have won an Oscar), Nicholas Rowe, Edward Fox, Jamie Bell, Nathan Lane, and Alan Cumming, and you have a well-rounded, top-notch cast. The roles are all performed with intelligence and insight, the costuming is lovely, and the script never lags.From a family -- and indeed a Christian perspective -- I'm happy to report that McGrath's screenplay maintains the height of decency. Even when dealing with tedious and "offensive" elements, such as Sir Mulberry Hawke's pursuit of Kate, the film does its best to present the scenario in a way which won't offend mainstream audiences. There are some intense scenes at the Squeers' school, where children are flogged, but these scenes are kept to a minimum and never overly graphic. I particularly enjoyed seeing Nicholas defend the honor of Smike, Madeline, and his sister Kate. For those who haven't read the novel, the story ends with a surprising twist with little clues planted along the way to point you toward the truth. For those who do know the ending, it's handled beautifully and has great screen impact.I was fortunate enough to see this on the big screen in a little theatre in the heart of the city while others were flocking to much bigger and less enthusiastic releases. I've looked forward to owning the DVD for a long time."
I WILL STRIKE HIM UNTIL HE CAN BE STRUCK NO MORE...
Lawyeraau | Balmoral Castle | 09/15/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a concise adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel of the same name. It is a quintessential Dickensian tale. A doting father and loving husband lives in the country with his beloved family. Needing money for their sustenance, he speculates with the little money that he has, at his wife's insistence, and loses all. Dying of a broken heart, he leaves his wife (Stella Gonet) and daughter, Kate (Romola Garai), in the care of his nineteen year old son, Nichols Nickleby (Charlie Hunnam). Left penniless, they are forced to seek succor from their father's cruel but wealthy brother, Ralph Nickleby (Christopher Plummer), who lives in baronial splendor in London.
When they arrive in London, Nicholas, not knowing his uncle's proclivity for cruelty, entrusts his mother and sister into his uncle's care. He allows himself, at his uncle's behest, to be sent as a schoolmaster at a Yorkshire boarding school run by Wackford Squeers (Jim Broadbent), while his sister is to be apprenticed to a dressmaker. An innocent lamb being led to the slaughter, Nicholas goes off to the school, only to find cruelty of a type that he never would have imagined. The school is a run with an iron fist by both Mr. Squeers and the love of his life, the indomitable Mrs. Squeers (Juliet Stevenson), whose idea of a good meal for the boys in their care and custody is a steady diet of brimstone and treacle. Harsh corporal punishment and a spare and unpalatable diet take their toll on the boys, who live in a state of total fear and squalor at the school.
The physical labor needed at the school is provide by a crippled, teenage orphan named Smike (Jamie Bell), a former student. It seems that payments for Smike's education and board stopped some time ago, so Mr. and Mrs. Squeers have kept him on as a sort of indentured servant, heaping every imaginable physical and emotional cruelty and privation upon this unfortunate lad. Nicholas forms a bond with Smike, befriending him in the promise and emerging as his champion, incurring Smike's enduring devotion. Together, Smike and Nicholas flee the school, emerging from darkness into light when they meet up with thespians, Vincent Crummles (Nathan Lane) and his wife, Mrs. Crummles (Barry Humphries), and their traveling band of actors.
Meanwhile in London, Kate and her mother live in penury, while Kate is fairing little better than her brother. It seems that her uncle, under the guise of being avuncular, is intentionally subjecting her to the offensive overtures of a potential client of his, the salacious Sir Mulberry Hawk (Edward Fox). Acting as procurer for his wealthy friends and potential clients, Uncle Ralph continues to put Kate into the most compromising and unpleasant of situations for one so gently brought up, treating her as if she were little more than a strumpet. Kate is beside herself with humiliation at the state to which she has been reduced and the position in which she finds herself. She manages, however, to stand up for herself to her uncle, remaining resolute in her desire to retain her dignity and her reputation.
Unbeknownst to Uncle Ralph, however, his appalled assistant, Newman Noggs (Tom Courtenay), a gentleman who has fallen upon hard times due to his penchant for liquor, has been affronted by his employer's treatment of the Nickleby family. Noggs apprises Nicholas Nickleby of all that has transpired and of his Uncle Ralph's intent to ruin them, so Nicholas seeks to avenge his family. While doing so, Nicholas makes the acquaintance of beautiful Madeline Bray (Anne Hathaway), another one of his uncle's victims. In avenging his family, Nicholas will manage to right what has gone wrong for her, as well. What follows is pure cinematic magic. This is a beautifully acted film and excellent adaptation of the Dickens novel.
Charlie Hunnam is perfectly cast as the innocent Nicholas Nickleby who initially has the wool pulled over his eyes but, when faced with the reality of his situation, rises to the forefront as an avenging angel for all who have been smitten by evil. Christopher Plummer is simply sensational as the crafty and evil uncle, Ralph Nickleby, who in an ironic plot twist has his punishment fit his crimes. Jamie Bell infuses the role of the faithful Smike with just the right amount of pathos. Jim Broadbent and Juliet Stevenson are perfectly cast as Mr. and Mrs. Squeers, the cruel and evil couple who, ironically, coo at each other, as lovebirds are wont to do. Romola Garai is excellent as the much put upon Kate. Edward Fox is terrific as the smarmy Sir Mulberry Hawk. Tom Courtenay is affecting in the role of the disgusted assistant, Newman Noggs. Anne Hathaway, finding herself among such a distinguished cast, manages to hold her own in the role of Madeline Bray, while affecting a proper English accent. Nathan Lane shines in the role of the kindly thespian, Vincent Crummles. The most inspired bit of casting, however, is that of Barry Humphries, also known as Dame Edna, in the role of the bustling Mrs. Crummles.
Director Douglas McGrath has deftly directed this film, exacting meticulous performances from his stellar cast. He has also written an excellent screenplay, as it brilliantly and succinctly adapts the Dickens novel, keeping its essence intact. This is simply a beautiful film with first class production values. It is a film that will hold great appeal for those who are fans of Charles Dickens, as well as for those who love period pieces."
Superb cast bring Dickens to film life
John Vance Snow | 01/14/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Douglas McGrath's new film of one of the most underrated of Dickens's novels is a masterpiece, virtually flawless from first frame to last. Jamie Bell, BAFTA best actor winner for Billy Elliot, takes on the very difficult role of Smike, the abused young inmate of Dotheboys Hall, and rivals Christopher Plummer (as wicked uncle Ralph Nickleby) for best performance in the piece. Brilliant evocation of 1830s London and rural England, and it is great to see such luminaries as Alan Cumming, Dame Edna Everage (!) and Nathan Lane obviously enjoying themselves to the hilt. In my view, this is the best Dickens we have had on screen or television since Christine Edzard's Little Dorrit set a new standard in 1987. Run, don't walk!"
Elegant, fast-paced version of the Dickens novel
Matthew Horner | USA | 07/28/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Charles Dickens was both a great storyteller and a witty commentator on the social injustices of mid-19th Century England.150 years later, the class struggles in Great Britain are of interest mainly to historians. Dickens, the storyteller, however, is still a great deal of fun in the right hands. Many of us are familiar with the numerous film versions of ?A Christmas Carol?, ?David Copperfield?, ?Oliver Twist?, ?A Tale of Two Cities? and ?Great Expectations?. Dicken?s lesser known and very long ?Nicolas Nickleby? is a hard book to tackle by any standards. Writer/director Douglas McGrath has done an admirable job of turning this ponderous tome into a sumptuous, entertaining movie that runs just over two hours. Sadly, the film, released last Christmas, fell under the radar, and very few people saw it. Perhaps on video and DVD it will find a wider audience. Nickleby [Charlie Hunnan] is a young man whose loving father has recently died in poverty, leaving Nickleby in charge of providing for his sister and mother. They journey to London to seek the help of their only other living relative, Ralph [Christopher Plummer], the dead father?s brother. Ralph is a rich, conniving, unscrupulous entrepreneur, who makes his money by convincing rich Londoners to invest in various schemes. He has scant interest in his family. He provides in a small way for the mother and daughter, but sends Nicholas off to the country to work in a dreadful boys? school run by the wicked Wackford Sqeers [Jim Broadbent] and his hideous wife [Juliet Stevenson]. Though appalled by conditions at the school, Nicholas tries hard to do a good job. He befriends a poor lad named Smike [Jamie Bell], who was once a student but is now virtually the Squeers? slave. Eventually, Nicholas and Smike leave the school, and Nicholas sets out to right the wrongs done to his family and to Smike. Wisely, McGrath injects much energy and humor into the movie. The tale may be dark, but the telling is not. The cast is uniformly excellent, and the supporting cast includes such great performers as Edward Fox, Tom Courtney, Nathan Lane, Alan Cumming, and even Barry Humphries, better know as Dame Edna. All in all, one of the better British imports in the last few years."
A good adaptaion, alternately humourous and dark
Craig MACKINNON | Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada | 04/25/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Charles Dickens wrote the novel of Nicholas Nickelby as an indictment of the infamous "Yorkshire Schools" - English public schools in Yorkshire where unwanted children (bastards, etc.) were sent to be "educated" for the lowest possible price. One headmaster was jailed on account of his cruelty. With the purpose of denouncing these schools, Nicholas Nickelby shines forth with Dickens's trademark ironic wit. I'm happy to report that this film adaptation is faithful to the spirit of the original work - dark and monstrous when portraying evil at work, bright and cheerful when good triumphs.It's been some time since I read the book, but from what I remember, the film follows pretty closely with the action. Of course, it's necessarily abbreviated, but not detrimentally so (but see below). Nicholas, his sister Kate, and their mother have recently lost the patriarch of the family, and travel to London to see if his (extremely rich and selfish) uncle can help them get through their financial difficulties. Uncle promptly sends Nicholas off to teach as Dotheby's Hall, run by the notorious Squeers. He befriends a poor orphan named Smike, who is constantly abused by Squeers and his wife. Eventually, Nicholas has had enough and flees the school with Smike, setting up further adventures as he makes his way back to London to be with Kate and his mother.Jamie Bell's performance as Smike is the absolute highlight of the film. He cowers, limps, and somehow folds himself into the very representation of a crippled, malnourished, and abused boy. Christopher Plummer's scenery-chewing Uncle Ralph is also impressive, as are the performances of the principles and the entire supporting cast. The direction is sure, London is suitably dank and smokey (although, oddly, the mud and filth doesn't seem to get onto the characters' clothes), and the score is quite nice.Although the story follows relatively closely to the book, there are times when Dickens's irony is instead shown as melodrama - one of the problems with adapting Dickens is that his sardonic wit is often part of the narration, not part of the characters. Apart from the Squeers family, Nicholas Nickelby's original sarcasm is buried. Likewise, with the cutting of characters, it's the comic relief characters that are sacrificed (e.g. Tim Linkwater (?) and Miss Lacreevy). The movie simply isn't as funny as the book, but still, full marks for what must have been a tough adaptation from a 750 page book! For my money, Ang Lee's "Sense and Sensibility" is still the best film made from a "classic" English novel. This film is quite close, though.The DVD edition is quite nice - the director is unusually candid and well-spoken, so the behind-the-scenes featurettes and the director's commentary are quite good."