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Nicholas Nickleby
Nicholas Nickleby
Actors: Charlie Hunnam, Jamie Bell, Christopher Plummer, Jim Broadbent, Anne Hathaway
Director: Douglas McGrath
Genres: Drama, Musicals & Performing Arts
PG     2003     2hr 12min

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 »

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Movie Details

Actors: Charlie Hunnam, Jamie Bell, Christopher Plummer, Jim Broadbent, Anne Hathaway
Director: Douglas McGrath
Creators: Douglas McGrath, Gail Egan, Jeff Sharp, John Hart, Michael Hogan, Robert How, Charles Dickens
Genres: Drama, Musicals & Performing Arts
Sub-Genres: Family Life, Musicals & Performing Arts
Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Closed-captioned,Dubbed,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 07/22/2003
Original Release Date: 01/01/2002
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2002
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 2hr 12min
Screens: Color,Full Screen,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 4
Members Wishing: 0
Edition: Special Edition
MPAA Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English, French, Spanish
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

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Member Movie Reviews

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.

Movie Reviews

"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."
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!"