The Mystery of Edwin Drood (2012) – reviewed by George

I don’t know how this was shown in the UK, possibly as a TV movie, but here in the US it was shown on “Masterpiece” in two one-hour installments. Credits on the first hour read “by Charles Dickens, Screenplay by Gwyneth Hughes”. On the second hour they read “by Charles Dickens, Completed by Gwyneth Hughes”. And so, despite the incredible acting by an amazing ensemble (special credit to Matthew Rhys, currently of “The Americans”), the real star is Ms. Hughes, who has turned the storyline 180 degrees, and come up with what Mr. Dickens may well have wanted the tale to be, if only he had lived to complete it.
Among her changes (that I can talk about): the murder is shown, so there is no doubt or guesswork about the killer’s identity; Helena and Neville are half British (mother) and half Indian (father), so the cruel stepfather must be British; and instead of hiding the body the killer returns to find it gone.
This startling new version of the story was directed by Diarmuid Lawrence, and stars, in addition to Rhys as choirmaster and opium addict John Jasper, Rory Kennear as Rev. Septimus Crisparkle, Alun Armstrong as Lawyer Grewgious who handles all the legal duties for Rosa and Edwin, Julia McKenzie as the Reverend’s mother, Ron Cook as Durdles, Sacha Dhawan as Neville Landless, Freddie Fox as Edwin, Ian McNeice as Mayor Sapsea, Tamzin Merchant as Rosa,  and Amber Rose Revah as Helena Landless, with Janet Dale as Miss Twinkleton, and Ellie Haddington as the opium den woman Princess Puffer. There is also a new character, a clerk for Lawyer Grewgious named Bazzard, played by David Dawson, whose cleverness and desire to get out of the office once in a while are crucial to the plot. Kudos to all, and to all of the other actors and the crew.
My suggestion is that you view the 1935 version first to get a sense of the accepted telling and then the 2012 version to have your mind blown.

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