Remarkably bleak for a teen movie, this drama keeps us gripped as it throws its characters into an odyssey that's seriously harrowing. Gifted filmmaker Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) and a fine young cast make sure that we feel every punch of emotion along the way. And the premise itself gets our minds spinning in unusual directions.
Set in the present day, violent uprisings are growing in Europe as 16-year-old Daisy (Ronan) heads from New York to Britain to spend the summer with her Aunt Penn (Chancellor) on a farm in rural Wales. A sullen loner, she tries to avoid her three chirpy cousins: the quiet genius Eddie (MacKay) is her age, while the more adventurous Isaac (Holland) is 14 and the younger Piper (Bird) is clingy and annoying. Then while Penn is away on business, the violence spreads to the UK, which descends into martial law. The cousins are divided and sent into care. But they promise to meet back at the farm, which is going to be an epic journey for Daisy and Piper if they can escape from their new home.
The story is told from Daisy's perspective, complete with glimpses into her troubled thoughts, dreams and nightmares. We're never sure why she is so deeply fearful of everything around her, but Ronan brings out her fragile mental state beautifully, then takes us along as Daisy is pushed to the limits and must find the inner strength to go forward. As a result, the other characters remain less-defined, although MacKay and Holland bring layers of interest to Eddie and Isaac. As Daisy's companion, Bird is much more present on-screen, and we're as irritated by her as Daisy is.
Continue reading: How I Live Now Review
You deserve a grain-of-salt warning before reading this review: Your friendly film critic really can't abide Charles Dickens, and "Nicholas Nickleby" is especially exemplary of everything that irks me about his work.
The characters in this tale of 19th Century woe are largely one-dimensional -- implausibly sweet and naive or absurdly ruthless and cruel without reason -- and they invite second-guessing to a distracting degree.
Nineteen years old and suddenly the head of his family after his father's death, the title character (played by the over-earnest Charlie Hunnam) reluctantly moves with his mother and sister from the quiet country cottage they can no longer afford to dirty, polluted, noisy, heartless London, seeking the help of Nicholas's rich, odious uncle (Christopher Plummer), who doesn't see why he should be burdened with helping his brother's family.
Continue reading: Nicholas Nickleby Review
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