Were Roman Polanski's name not up on the screen, you'd be hard-pressed to guess that he had directed this adaptation of the Dickens classic, so lacking is it in the qualities that have made his other films so memorable. One of Polanski's great strengths has always been his ability to create and maintain atmosphere. Here, however, everything feels designed and manufactured. His decision to go with a slightly larger-than-life look, instead of one more purely naturalistic, has the effect of taking the viewer out of the movie, as opposed to living the story along with the characters. (For real atmosphere, rent David Lean's 1948 version.) The second half of the film feels disjointed; not only does the focus shift from Oliver to the adult characters, but the scenes feel crudely cobbled together. A disappointingly flat film that's emotionally uninvolving.
Director: Roman Polanski
Writer: Roman Polanski, Ronald Harwood and Charles Dickens
Producer: Alain Sarde, Robert Benmussa and Roman Polanski
Cast: Ben Kingsley, Barney Clark, Jamie Foreman, Frank Finlay, Harry Eden, Leanne Rowe, Lewis Chase, Jeremy Swift, Frances Cuka and Jake Curran