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Nicholas Nickleby (2002) Movie Review – A Romantic Charles Dickens Adaptation

nicholas nickleby poster

Nicholas Nickleby Review

Nicholas Nickelby
Charlie Hunnam and Anne Hathaway in Nicholas Nickleby.

The 2002 version of Nicholas Nickleby is undoubtedly one of my favorite Charles Dickens based movies. The story follows Nicholas Nickleby (Charlie Hunnam) and his family after the death of his father when they travel to London to ask for the aid of his Uncle. However, his Uncle isn’t the giving sort. Nicholas is shipped off to work at a harsh boy’s school and his sister Kate is employed at a milliner’s shop. Nicholas must then take a journey to find happiness and become a hero for his family. Hidden secrets, romance, and adventure all come together to create a heartwarming tale of one boy’s journey to become a man.

The cast and their great acting really made this movie work. Charlie Hunnam is an endearing Nicholas that first caused me to develop a crush on him years ago. However, not only is Charlie Hunnam a treat to watch, but the rest of the cast includes other movie greats like Romola Garai, Anne Hathaway, Nathan Lane, and Christoper Plummer.

nicholas nickleby
Christopher Plummer in Nicholas Nickleby.

Christopher Plummer made an excellent villain. You could feel his coldness and scheming emanating from the screen. Anne Hathaway made a demure and sweet Madeline. But I really think Nathan Lane stole the show as Vincent Crummles, the theater troop leader. He was eccentric and fantastic. Jamie Bell’s Smike was heart wrenching and brilliantly portrayed. The cast did such a great job in their parts, making all of the characters memorable and lovable. In fact, almost all of Dickens’ characters have quirks to them. For any adaptation, it’s important for the actors to bring his interesting array of characters to life and I think all the stars of Nicholas Nickleby did just that.

Another great thing about Nicholas Nickleby is the contrast between settings. It helps to tell the story of the different things that are happening to the characters. Viewers can see the idyllic and beautiful countryside, for instance, where Nicholas and his family spent their childhoods. In marked contrast, the scenes then shift to the dirty  streets of London and the harsh, cold countryside where Dotheboys Hall is located. The settings enhance the story in so many ways. Not to mention the wonderful period drama costumes and the Victorian era mannerisms.

nicholas nickleby
Wedding of Nicholas Nickleby

Lastly, like all good period dramas, there is the romance. The love between Nicholas and Madeline is very pure and sweet. They truly want the happiness of one another. Nicholas is willing to do what it takes to make Madeline realize she is worth being loved. It’s poignant and romantic. We also have a background romance between Smike and Kate. Poor Smike pines after Kate but keeps a secret until his deathbed. It’s later revealed that the Nicklebys and Smike were, in fact, cousins. Alas, poor Kate was having a romance of her own before any of this was revealed.

If you want a great period drama, I suggest the 2002 version of Nicholas Nickleby. It’s a classic and perfect for all ages.

Have you seen this endearing period drama? What do you think of Nicholas Nickleby? Sound off in the comments below…

Photos: MGM/United Artists Film Corporation


Four and a half corset rating

“You had me at hello.”


Five heart rating

“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.

I have loved none but you.”

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By on November 12th, 2015

About Mandi Harris

Mandi Harris is a freelance writer and blogger. If she isn't writing, she has her nose in a book. Books are her ultimate addiction. Her other weaknesses include period dramas, chocolate, and her pets. She is working on her own novels now and hopes to one day get published. You can read her book blog over at thepennedpiper.com.

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2 thoughts on “Nicholas Nickleby (2002) Movie Review – A Romantic Charles Dickens Adaptation”

  1. I really like this version. So well done. I think Charlie Hunnam was a great choice also; he brought such a sincere, gentle nature to Nicholas Nickleby’s character.


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