Victoria Hirst

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Twist (2003) Review


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What would happen if you reimagined Dickens' Oliver Twist as a tale of modern-day teen hustlers cruising the nasty streets of Toronto? Twist sets out to answer this question, not that anyone was asking. In fact, Gus Van Sant already answered the question back in 1991 with My Own Private Idaho. Twist walks similar streets but in a tedious way that focuses more on beatings and squalor than on the emotional lives of its characters.

It's down at the donut shop that young Oliver (Joshua Close), a runaway who has grown up in foster homes, meets Dodge (Nick Stahl), a streetwise, hollow-eyed hustler who's always on the lookout for new recruits to present to the local pimp, Fagin (Gary Farmer). The thoroughly unpleasant Fagin, who usually greets his charges with a punch in the face when they return to the ratty hustler rooming house he runs, quickly brings the nervous Oliver into the fold. The only ray of light in this ugly world is Nancy (Michele-Barbara Pelletier), a friendly diner waitress who also happens to be the girlfriend of the unseen Bill Sykes, the terrifying mastermind who apparently controls the entire Toronto underworld, Fagin included.

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