Young Nicholas (Charlie Hunnam) and his family enjoy a comfortable life, until Nicholas' father (Andrew Havill) dies and the family is left penniless. Nicholas, his sister Kate (Romola Garai) and mother (Stella Gonet) venture to London to seek help from their Uncle Ralph (Christopher Plummer), but Ralph's only intentions are to separate the family and exploit them. Nicholas is sent to a school run by the cruel, abusive and horridly entertaining Mr. Wackford Squeers (Jim Broadbent). Eventually, Nicholas runs away with schoolmate Smike (Jamie Bell), and the two set off to reunite the Nickleby family.
At the request of production designer Eve Stewart, writer and director Douglas McGrath advanced the time from the 1830s to the 1850s, so she could incorporate elements of the Industrial Revolution in her design plans. See more »
The movie is set in the early-to-mid-1800s, but characters sing the hymn "God is working His purpose out" which was written in 1894, 24 years after the death of Charles Dickens. See more »
What happens when the light first pierces the dark dampness in which we have waited? We are slapped and cut loose. If we are lucky, someone is there to catch us and persuade us that we are safe. But are we safe? What happens if, too early, we lose a parent? That party on whom we rely for only everything? Why, we are cut loose again and we wonder, even dread whose hands will catch us now? There once lived a man named Nicholas Nickleby...
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On Ilkla Moor Baht 'at
Traditional Yorkshire folk song; sung to the Methodist hymnal tune "Cranbrook" (1805) (uncredited), written by 'Thomas Clark'
Performed by Kevin McKidd (uncredited), Helen Coker (uncredited), and Jim Broadbent (uncredited)
Sung by John Browdie and Tilda while on their honeymoon in a London public house, accompanied by Mr. Wackford Squeers See more »
England is lovingly represented in this film by a cinematography wedded to landscape.
If Dickens were with us today, he would delight in the stock shenanigans of Michael Milken and the outrageous dysfunction of the Osbourne family. Speculation and family chaos rule his `Nicholas Nickleby,' directed on film by Douglas McGrath (`Emma') and starring Christopher Plummer as cold Uncle Ralph and Jim Broadbent as cruel Wackford Squeers.
The idyllic thatched cottage in Devonshire with its white smoke pluming to heaven contrasts sharply with the dark satanic mills of London spewing black smoke into every home and hovel. The eponymous hero, played by Brit TV star Charlie Hunnam, travels both worlds to defend the honor of his sister, overcome the tyranny of his uncle (Plummer), and find love. Along the way Broadbent's boarding-school proprietor, reflecting the workhouse slavery of 19th century England, helps his uncle sabotage Nickleby's spirit and endanger his best friend. But Nicholas also meets the delightful Cheeryble brothers, one of whom is Mike Leigh regular Timothy Spall in an uncharacteristically cheery role.
England is lovingly represented in this film by a cinematography wedded to landscape like a Constable painting, gentlemen appearing as stately as in a Reynolds, and women appearing to be sitting for Gainesboro. All seems well represented without being overdone or obvious.
Like a good Dickens novel, the filmed `Nicholas Nickleby' can't help but drive home lessons about honesty and family. Reliance on both will bring happiness. My only question is how did the Golden Globes ever nominate this as a comedy?
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