Director: Jacob Tierney

2003. Colour. Dolby stereo. 97 mins.

A modern telling of Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist, told from the Artful Dodger’s point of view, may seem a monumental task for a 23-year-old director. However, Jacob Tierney’s Twist is an extremely precise and assured feature debut. The writer-director draws on his many years in front of the camera (The Neon Bible, This Is My Father) to elicit exquisitely subtle performances from an ensemble cast featuring Nick Stahl (In the Bedroom), Gary Farmer (Dead Man) and newcomer Joshua Close as the almost angelic Oliver.
The pickpockets of the original tale have been replaced by young male prostitutes. Gone are the workhouses and the horrors of Victorian slum life, replaced by the harsh streets of present-day Toronto. Dodge (Stahl) is a veteran of the streets who picks up Oliver and initiates him into a world of drug abuse and prostitution. As Oliver’s innocence dissolves, both young men confront their demons. Although faithful to the social reformist impulse at the heart of Dickens’s writings, Twist translates the novel’s sorrow and fierce poignancy into starkly composed images that will resonate with contemporary audiences.
Jacob Tierney will attend the screening and talk about his film.

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