Dickens was the master of Victorian social satire, ruthlessly exposing the cruelty and absurdity that supported the strictly hierarchical class-structure of the day. This superb production of Our Mutual Friend does full justice to his darkest, most complex novel, fleshing out the satirical bones of the plot with performances that eschew caricature in favour of psychological depth. Anna Friel's Bella is wonderfully complex, her innate goodness struggling with her love of money and desire for advancement. Paul McGann, as the lawyer Wrayburn, is also superb, wrestling with the implications of his feelings for Lizzie. And of course, this being Dickens and the BBC, there's a terrific supporting cast, including Timothy Spall as the melancholy articulator of skeletons, Mr Venus. As the fortunes of the characters rise and fall, the river Thames flows eternally.
A body pulled from the Thames is identified as young John Harmon, heir to a fortune made in dust-contracting (a lucrative 19th century recycling business). Bella Wilfer, his wife-to-be by terms of old Harmon's will, goes into mourning though she has never met her fiancé. Bella is adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Boffin, inheritors of the dust business in default of young Harmon. The Boffins also hire a very capable but mysterious young man as secretary, John Rokesmith, whose keen interest in Bella holds the secret to his true identity.Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Rokesmith and Bella have secretly married, without Bella realizing her husband is actually John Harmon, her original fiancé, about to claim his dust fortune from the Boffins, who for their part have been playing villains to test Bella's true character. Meanwhile, Eugene has a brush with death via Headstone and decides to do the honorable thing with Lizzie.Watch Now:Amazon
Lizzie Hexam, daughter of the corpse robber who found young Harmon's alleged body, is being courted by two desperate characters: Eugene Wrayburn, a dissolute barrister, and Bradley Headstone, a mentally-deranged schoolmaster. As their rivalry gets out of hand, Lizzie flees. Meanwhile, the once-kindly Mr. Boffin has become a tyrant to Rokesmith, who evokes the sympathy of the formerly haughty Bella.Watch Now:Amazon