Nicholas Nickleby

Jim Broadbent, Charlie Hunnam, Jamie Bell

Directed by Douglas McGrath
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 3
Community: star rating
5 3 0
January 9, 2003

This is the gayest film version ever of a Charles Dickens novel. Not that there's anything wrong with that. The author may have laughed (I know I did) watching Nathan Lane ham Mr. Crummles, master thespian, and Barry Humphries (a.k.a. Dame Edna) don drag to play Mrs. C. Then there's Alan Cumming (the ambisexual MC in Broadway's Cabaret) popping up to do a highland fling. Great Scot!

But is director Douglas McGrath (Emma), who condensed Dickens' third novel into a two-hour movie, pushing the joke? To play Nicholas, the fatherless boy who teaches orphans to help support his mother and sister, McGrath cast Charlie Hunnam, the bottle-blond Brit who made his name screwing older men in Showtime's Queer as Folk. Jamie Bell, the twinkle-toed star of Billy Elliot, plays Smike, a cripple who stares adoringly at Nicholas. And no wonder, since Nicholas removes his shirt even in the dank cold of Dotheboys Hall (pronounced, at least in this film, as do-the-boys).

It's a wonder, then, that Christopher Plummer steals the show without resorting to camp as Nicholas' wounded and wounding Uncle Ralph. It's a great performance and a reminder of Dickens' grandeur. This Cliff's Notes of a film, though lively fun, only hints at that. No matter. I'll take the hint.

Movie Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Road to Nowhere”

    Talking Heads | 1985

    A cappella harmonies give way to an a fuller arrangement blending pop and electro-disco on "Road to Nowhere," but the theme remains constant: We're on an eternal journey to an undefined destination. The song vaulted back into the news a quarter century after it was a hit when Gov. Charlie Crist used it in his unsuccessful 2010 campaign for the U.S. Senate in Florida. "It's this little ditty about how there's no order and no plan and no scheme to life and death and it doesn't mean anything, but it's all right," Byrne said with a chuckle.

    More Song Stories entries »