Ok, so....um....where was I going with this???
Oh yes! Movie reviews. I just finished watching "Our Mutual Friend" based on the Charles Dickens novel by the same title.
I used to hate Dickens, I've only read I think two of his books, but I feel more hopeful about reading more of them after watching this film. The BBC produced this version and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
While full of darkness, despair, and death, this movie has a strong themes of sacrifice, true friendship, redemption, and resurrection. The story centers around John Harmon, a young man set to inherit his father's fortune on the condition that he marry Bella Wilfer, a young woman he has never met. Unfortunately, John drowns on his way home to England to collect his inheritance and marry Bella. The fortune then falls to the Boffins, a kindly old couple who run the dust heaps (our modern day version of landfills). The Boffins show the first display of sacrifice by offering to take Bella in as their ward, since she so sadly disappointed out of a fortune. Bella as we learn, is a good girl, though wants money and hates being poor. She loves her father very much, but her mother, not so much, though I was never quite sure why. She agrees to the opportunity to live with the Boffins and be introduced into society. At this time, a young man, John Roquesmith, makes his way into the Boffin's home and becomes established as Mr. Boffin's secretary (the latter being unable to read or write except for numbers). John is a good, honest, quite and very secretive young man who as we find out is really John Harmon - he's not dead! He's been going along with the "John Harmon is dead" routine, because he wants to see if Bella will fall in love with him for who he is - not for the fortune he was supposed to inherit. I say "was supposed to" because it appears that John has no intention of coming back to life and claiming his inheritance. He sacrifices his original self because of his love and care for the Boffins and for Bella. There are secondary characters throughout this story, that, in true Dicken's style, don't really seem to be connected to one-another in any way, until their stories weave together in the end. One theme I caught onto was a juxaposition of Lizzie Hexam and Bella Wilfer - Lizzie is entirely unselfish towards her father, brother and friends, to the point of refusing the man that truly loves her, because of their class differences; whereas Bella is looking for a fortune, whether to inherit or marry into in a seemingly selfish manner. Through the movie, both women progess towards the opposite direction of their mindset until they meet in the middle - one learning from the other. I really love the themes of death and resurrection in this story, the contrast in father/daughter relationships with Bella and her father, Lizzie Hexam and her father, and Jenny and her father, the story of friendship, obsession, and what true love really looks like.
All in all, this was a great story, and has inspired me to read the book...I know, I'm going about this in a rather backwards fashion.
One final note: at the end of the film, it seems that the "mutual friend" is still somewhat of a mystery...is it John Harmon? Is it the distinctions of class and society? Many commentators seem to think the friend is the Thames River - the central location where the story takes place. I'll leave that for you to decide.