Metascore
65

Generally favorable reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 36
  2. Negative: 1 out of 36
  1. A grounded and unusually matter-of-fact adaptation.
  2. Altogether remarkable, a near-masterpiece.
  3. 90
    This is that rare movie version of a great novel in which watching IS reading.
  4. 88
    Polanski's film is visually exact and detailed without being too picturesque. This is not Ye Olde London, but Ye Harrowing London, teeming with life and dispute.
  5. Yet precisely because this is by Roman Polanski, it's irresistible to read his sorrowful and seemingly classical take, from a filmmaker known as much for the schisms in his personal history as for the lurches in his work, as something much more personal and poignant.
  6. 83
    Despite the movie's several shortcomings, it leaves us sated. That's because, unlike Oliver's workhouse, it does give "some more" - more emotional breadth, more hardscrabble farce, and more haunting drama.
  7. With tact and enthusiasm, Mr. Polanski grabs hold of a great book and rediscovers its true and enduring vitality.
  8. The movie about literature's luckiest orphan may teem with children, but it is not for them.
  9. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    75
    Dark, dank and violent, filled with terrifying scenes in which exploited children are beaten, shot or starving to death. In other words, it's just as Dickens wrote.
  10. Reviewed by: Ryan Devlin
    75
    It's worth noting that Oliver Twist will likely be no Harry Potter at the box office, due in no small part to a lack of bombastic special effects and supernatural subplots, yet it's nearly as entertaining, even without the wizardry.
  11. The movie is 23 minutes longer than the Lean version, yet it somehow seems much less evocative of the novel's immense scope and texture. And its Cockney accents are such a strain to understand that as much as a third of the dialogue is indecipherable.
  12. 70
    Accomplished if lacking in urgency, this Oliver Twist (scripted by Ronald Harwood, who also wrote "The Pianist") showcases Polanski's proven gift for Dickensian caricature.
  13. Polanski's version, though handsomely realized, is a fairly conventional rendering of the novel that probably won't be counted among his best films.
  14. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    70
    The most effective counterweight to Polanski's fatalism is young Barney Clark, whose Oliver--although given to few words--is unshakably alive and responsive, even as he's being buffeted violently by forces beyond his control.
  15. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    70
    A respectable literary adaptation but lacks dramatic urgency and intriguing undercurrents.
  16. 70
    Without Nancy and her demon lover, Polanski's Oliver Twist feels handsome, steady, and respectful; it has that touch of mummification which wins awards. But Dickens had murder in mind--women killed for their kindness, children for lack of food--and he wanted us to howl and hyperventilate. He asked for more.
  17. Polanski honors the craft of classical storytelling and never flinches from the book's melodramatic extremes in portraying the horrors of poverty.
  18. 67
    As in "The Pianist," Polanski is content to allow the film's narrative to evoke the emotions he wishes his audience to experience.
  19. 67
    And that ultimately may be the problem with the Polanski version: by bringing Oliver forward, you push the drama backward.
  20. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    63
    Filming on locations in Prague and in various Czech locations serving as London and the English countryside, the director delivers Dickens' tale with some style. The style, however, is that of a more cautious artist than Polanski is at his best.
  21. 63
    Turns out to be far more interesting for grown-ups (the movie is probably too long, and too much, for little kids anyway).
  22. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    63
    Dickens was a sentimentalist, but even his happy endings are more nuanced than Polanski's brutal anti-sentimentalism.
  23. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    63
    The big surprise in Polanski's Oliver is the lack of a discernible personal stamp, especially from such a directorial master of the macabre.
  24. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    63
    The result is an expertly made, very watchable film that's curiously lacking in impact. By Polanski standards that has to be a disappointment.
  25. 63
    As an introduction to the story for someone with no previous exposure to Oliver Twist, Polanski's movie is adequate.
  26. So what's surprising here isn't Polanski's choice of material but his utter failure to put any distinctive stamp on it.
  27. The biggest surprise in Roman Polanski's Oliver Twist is that there are no surprises.
  28. None of the actors completely satisfies.
  29. 50
    It's unlikely audiences will be echoing a starving Oliver's most famous line: "Please, sir, I want some more."
  30. Kingsley seems determined to rescue this old chestnut of a character from Jewish stereotypes, but to what end? Oliver's boyhood has become worse than Dickensian - it's bland.
  31. 50
    Kingsley is one of very few lively things about Polanski's plodding, by-the-numbers Oliver Twist. And in this dreary setting, he comes across more as a desperate clown than a saving grace, which makes it all the more awkward that no one else is clowning along with him.
  32. Reviewed by: Staff (Not credited)
    50
    A disappointingly flat, disjointed affair.
  33. Two dramatic problems beset Roman Polanski's darkly handsome new film of the Dickens novel. The boy is as passive as ever, and bleak in the bargain -- instead of glowing like the Oliver of the musical, he takes light in -- while Ben Kingsley's Fagin and Jamie Foreman's Bill Sikes manage to make villainy a bit of a bore.
  34. Reviewed by: Phil Hall
    40
    Handsomely produced but emotionally inert offering.
  35. 40
    Lacking energy and pace and enslaved by a ghastly score, this tepid movie left me longing alternately for David Lean's thrillingly grim 1948 masterpiece, and Carol Reed's chipper 1968 sing-along, with pretty tunes by Lionel Bart.
  36. 30
    The fact that there's nothing wrong with it -- that there's nary a scenic detail or scrap of dialogue or performance that isn't utterly on the nose -- is precisely what's wrong with it.
User Score
7.4

Generally favorable reviews- based on 36 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 17
  2. Negative: 3 out of 17
  1. Apr 3, 2013
    7
    Um bom filme, que mostra uma realidade que ninguém nunca imaginou para uma criança, muito menos para uma como Oliver Twist.
    Esse filme
    transpira emoção e drama, não um tipo enjoativo de drama, mas algo que se quer saber mais, procurar sobre a história, ler o livro.
    É uma pena que o livro deixe a desejar, neste caso.
    Full Review »
  2. Feb 2, 2013
    6
    A movie greatly exaggerated, pessimistic and dramatic. But it's a good movie and very cultured.
  3. Apr 18, 2011
    9
    Like Crysania, I didn't really watch or read the original ones so this was new to me. And I'll say, I really enjoyed this movie. I really didn't expect the movie to be that good. Full Review »