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.
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