Friday, October 28, 2011

Little Dorrit (2009)

Many of you have probably already seen this miniseries but surprisingly I hadn't yet done a review on it.
My sister and I re-watched Little Dorrit (2009) last weekend, it was a special time because I hadn't seen it in a while and Miss Bea didn't remember most of the story so it was wonderful seeing the story through her eyes!

Amy sews for Mrs. Clenham
Story: The series tells the story of Amy Dorrit, who spends her days earning money for the family and looking after her proud father, who is a long term inmate of Marshalsea debtors' prison in London. Amy and her family's world is transformed when her boss's son, Arthur Clennam, returns from overseas to solve his family's mysterious legacy and discovers that their lives are interlinked.

Tom Courtenay as Mr. William Dorrit
Script: Written by Andrew Davies (Bleak House, Pride & Prejudice 1995 and many others). I've never read the book, which is extremely long, but judging from his other wonderful and extensive adaptations, I'm sure this miniseries is close to Charles Dickens' original work. The spirit, characters, story and ironic humor directed at social injustice is still true to Dickens' and the dialog sounds like it too comes directly from the book with few changes. The story is very charming and captures the viewer's attention with it's adventure, comedy and truth.

Arthur Clenham stops to question Amy Dorrit
Scenes: Amazingly crafted sets, country homes and high society interiors. Every detail of each scene is completely in keeping with the 1820's time period and is truly exquisite. The Marshalsea Prison is in particular an amazing construction,  as is the house of Clenham which was also built from scratch. Because of the poverty and darker themes most of the scenes echo that and are dark and gritty, not light and polished like an Austen adaptation.

Claire Foy as Amy Dorrit
Costumes: Styles are in keeping with the time period and characters. Amy Dorrit and her family as poorer folks wear mostly the same simple costumes but she does have some amazing gowns (like the purple one above) toward the end of the film. The richer characters have more elaborate costumes, some of the ladies have even more elaborate hairstyles! Arthur Clenham's hats were a source of fun to my sister and I as we watched, he has some charming ones!

Matthew Macfadyen as Arhtur Clenham
Music: Composed by John Lunn (Bleak House, Downton Abbey), the soundtrack is exquisite and I very much wish it would be released on CD! From the very first opening theme the music sweeps the viewer away into this charming world and adds so much to each scene.

My Music Video: Three recognizable themes from the miniseries accompanied by beautiful screencaps.

Characters from Little Dorrit

Actors In Their Roles: This star studded cast is absolutely amazing and well suited for their roles. There are so many likable characters portrayed with such talent!

Let's take a look at a few of the main characters:
  • Claire Foy as Amy Dorrit - Amy is a true heroine who serves others selflessly but always stands up for what is right. Claire Foy captures Amy's youth, sweetness, kindness and strength to a tee! She is such a strong actress and I've enjoyed seeing her in other roles but this role will always be my favorite.
  • Matthew Macfadyen as Arthur Clenham - Arthur is a very kind and gentlemanly character but he's not always as perceptive as he could be. Matthew Macfadyen does an excellent job of capturing his caring nature, earnestness and occasional melancholy. This is probably my favorite role of his as well, my sister and I really enjoyed him in this film.  
  • Tom Courtenay as Mr. William Dorrit - Mr. Dorrit is Amy's elderly father, a man come down in the world who always tries to rise above his circumstances and continue to demand respect owed him as a gentleman. It takes a powerful actor to keep the balance of making the viewer feel sorry for him and respect him at the same time and this is what Mr. Courtneay does. His portrayal is so skillfully done that he just becomes the character.
  • Judy Parfitt as Mrs. Clenham - Mrs. Clenham is a pious, clever, powerful woman with a cold heart and a load of secrets she pridefully keeps hidden. In this role Judy Parfitt was masterful with a strength and depth of emotions that resonates on screen. 
  • Andy Serkis as Rigaud - The Frenchman Rigaud is a criminal of the first order, he is a thief, murderer, blackmailer and scoundrel. Andy Serkis' portrayal as the black hearted Rigaud is completely believable, he does all of his own stunts and skillfully portrays this villain with mystery and unwavering strength.  
  • Russell Tovey as John Chivery - Miss Bea and I just adore John Chivery, although he isn't one of the main characters he is almost as much a favorite as Arthur Clenham. John's story is sad, he loves Amy Dorrit but unfortunately she only thinks of him as a brother. Even though he is poor he is a true gentleman to the point of caring for his rival. Russell Tovey's portrayal is heartbreaking, he made us cry almost every time he's on screen because his tears and emotions felt so real! My favorite scene in the whole miniseries is still the one toward the end where John reveals all, that scene always makes me cry no matter how many times I watch it! 

Russell Tovey as John Chivery
My Thoughts: I cannot say enough good things about Little Dorrit, it is one of my all time favorites! I adore so many of the characters and their fascinating stories just drew me in. I laughed and cried by turns and enjoyed every minute! My sister Miss Bea was also enthralled by the story, there are 14 half hour episodes and we watched all but 2 episodes in one Saturday afternoon! We could barely wait to play the next episode, it's that good!

The Dorrit Family
My Recommendations: I highly recommend this miniseries, it's definitely an essential view to anyone who enjoys Charles Dickens or period dramas. There are a few scenes that are a bit scary or have a slightly sensual theme but they are over quickly. Younger children may get scared during some scenes that have darker themes such as two scenes of tragic death and when the villain threatens or sneaks up on people.  I watched the entire miniseries with my 15-year-old sister and didn't really feel like I had to skip any scenes. This is definitely a must see!

Have you scene Little Dorrit (2009)?
If you have read the book, how does this miniseries compare to the original novel?
Which characters are your favorites?

Very Truly Your's,


Miss Dashwood said...

Little Dorrit gets 11 out of 10 stars, in my opinion. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this miniseries--it ranks right up there with Pride and Prejudice 95. I love Arthur and Amy's romance, and John Chivery always makes me cry, too. I'm a little disappointed that you didn't mention two of my favorite characters: Edmund Sparkler (no nonsense about him!) and Mr. Pancks (*snort*). They're hysterical!
I love the way this movie shows the sad, poverty-stricken side of Victorian London without being depressing or too dark. There's so much light and hope in Little Dorrit, despite the sadness of much of the story. I'm hoping to review this soon, too!

Anne-girl said...

I love this movie! And I really like John! that scene always makes me cry too.

Lady Agatha said...

Hello, Miss Laurie,
This show looks intersting but I don't like watching a show unless I know a lot about it. Could you please give me all the 'spoilers' of the film?:) And also every questionable scene that comes to your mind. Thank you so much, I really like your blog!
Lady Agatha

Miss Laurie of Old-Fashioned Charm said...

Lady Agatha,
Thank you for your interest. Would you mind e-mailing me about this subject? That way I don't have to put all the spoilers here in the comment in case others haven't seen it yet.

My e-mail is:

Miss Elizabeth Bennet said...

I very much enjoyed Little Dorrit. Comparing it to the 1988 movie, this one was definitely much better. I've only read a little of the book, but from what I've read of the book, the miniseries stays pretty close to it.

Katie Wegner said...

I love this movie. There are a few scenes in it that are not the best. But I love Amy and Arthur. They are both so good. I agree with Miss Dashwood...11 out of 10 stars totally!

Pallavi said...

I like this one, especially Mathew Macfadyen (Arthur). Very well made series to watch.

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