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Released in 2005, Roman Polanski's film of Charles Dickens's classic novel is strong, if a little over-reverent. It stars Barney Clark as Oliver, Ben Kingsley as Fagin, Jamie Foreman as Bill Sykes and Leanne Rowe as Nancy. Ronald Harwood's screenplay cleverly strips away some of the minor characters to allow the main characters to take centre stage, and there's a superb performance by Kingsley in one of film's most demanding roles.
Polanski's version stands up well to David Lean's 1948 classic, with the streets of London brought to life with vibrant gusto. But more interesting is Polanski's concentration on a young orphan alone in a city where many wish him harm. He and Harwood also make Fagin more central than Lean did, and offer a glimpse of a character who, although a rogue, is one created by society. In doing so, he makes the film resonant of our times.