Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Miniseries Review - Little Dorrit

Little Dorrit
Based on the book by Charles Dickens
Release Date: October 26th, 2008 – December 11th, 2008
Starring: Claire Foy, Matthew Macfadyen, Tom Courtenay, Emma Pierson, James Fleet, Arthur Darvill, Alum Armstrong, Judy Parfitt, Sue Johnston, Eddie Marsan, Rosie Cavaliero, Ron Cook, Andy Serkis, Russell Tovey, Bill Paterson, Amanda Redman, Maxine Peake, Freema Agyeman, Eve Myles, Anton Lesser, Pam Ferris, Jason Watkins, Annette Crosbie and Ruth Jones
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy

Arthur Clenham has returned from the Orient with his father's dying words on his mind, as well as an entreaty from that man to his wife to "put it right." Upon reaching England, Arthur begs of his mother to not only abide by her husband's dying wishes, but to tell Arthur what he meant by "put it right." Consumed with righting the wrong that his family did, without knowing who the wrong was against, Arthur grasps at a straw. The straw is that recently, his mother took a young Amy Dorrit into her care. His cold, harsh mother who does not believe in charity. Arthur therefore gets it into his head that somehow it must be the Dorrits to whom his family must pay reparations... if only he could figure out exactly how to go about this or even figure out more about the Dorrits.

The Dorrits have spent many, many years in debtors prison. Amy was even born there, earning her father the moniker, the Father of the Marshalsea, which is the prison in which they reside. Yet Amy's life is a happy one, taking care of her father and being his connection to the outside world. The arrival of Arthur Clenham changes everything. It's not only that through his investigations and trials with the circumlocution office that he is able to release the Dorrits from their debts, and therefore prison, it is that he has unknowingly stolen Amy's heart. Though Arthur's work has risen the Dorrits and Amy's father views Arthur as an unsavory connection. Anyone with knowledge of their past ignominy is unsuitable. Therefore the family relocates to Venice, where their lives will be changed, for better or worse, only they will know. But Amy's heart will forever be with Arthur, even if she should know better than to associate with him anymore. Sometimes she dreams that life would be easier if she had never met Arthur... and perhaps she is right.

The cast made me know in my bones that I would love this miniseries. So many names from Doctor Who and of course, Matthew Macfadyen. I have loved Matthew for over a decade now and have watched everything he has ever been in (he owes me for the atrocities of Any Human Heart). But I am a fickle person, I was so excited to watch this originally, I was hesitant to start it in the first place. Obviously, I finally did and I loved it. Perfect and funny and, well, the ending was rushed and confusing and made me thing that our hero and heroine where brother and sister... which, thanks to Wikipedia I learned they are not, because that would have been too eww even for Dickens. I even found things like the absurdity of Andy Serkis's character, the murderer Rigaud to be menacing and enjoyable, diverging with what most critics thought. But overall, I adored it.

Therefore I was a bit hesitant to re watch it for my blog. What if it wasn't as good as I remembered. What if it was the opposite of me and Bleak House and instead of finding more to love in it I found things that bothered me and I then hated the miniseries!?! Yes, I was truly thinking this way. And when I started I was not immediately in the miniseries. There was that part of me going, "oh dear, I was wrong wasn't I?" I wasn't as worried about the confusing ending, having done my Wikipedia research, and also learning from my friend Amy that the book actually is that confusing so it was Dickens's not Andrew Davies fault. But something happened and half way through I was again in love with Little Dorrit. I guess I didn't realize until re watching that it wasn't until the Dorrits had achieved wealth and thrown their old life into stark contrast that everything sort of finally came together. Also, who couldn't love Venice and empathize with Amy (the character not my friend) and the strange new world she was thrust into.

Though with everything I still have gripes... but I won't dwell there, I will dwell on the one thing that makes this miniseries transcendent, and no, I'm not talking about the amusement I feel seeing Arthur Darvill, Rory from Doctor Who being a little pudgy in the face and a lot of a dick. I'm talking about Russell Tovey. Personally, while I love Matthew Macfadyen, I really think that Amy should have ended up with John, the character played by Russell Tovey. I know that Dickens is showing that we can't always choose what the heart wants or who it will love, but Tovey broke my heart. When he is rejected by Amy and has his little soliloquy about the mortal remains of John Chivery, I defy you not to be broken. That is some of the most emotional heartbreaking acting you will ever see. Sure, Tovey has become a master of the sad, lonely and broken hearted in his acting, but this is unparalleled.

"Here lie the mortal remains of John Chivery, Assistant Turnkey and later Chief Turnkey of the Marshalsea Prison for Debt. He was unlucky in love and endured a good deal of sorrow, but he rose above it and performed many an act of kindness, even to his rival. And always engraved, on stone, deep into his very heart, is the name of "Amy Dorrit"."


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