Movie Review By Monica Sullivan
M.G.M. - and Spelling Films - are making a cool gamble that female audiences will flock to see a film adaptation of "Moll Flanders, loosely based on the 274-year-old novel by Daniel Defoe. In an early summer already dominated by action flicks spotlighting guys and special effects, ("The Rock", "Mission Impossible", Twister", "Dragonheart", "Eddie", "The Phantom", "Spy Hard", "The Arrival") is there anyone out there dying to see the adventures of an eighteenth century prostitute?
Writer-director Pen Densham, best known for reviving television's "Outer Limits", certainly hopes so and he has assembled a powerful cast to lure men and women alike into theatres. Robin Wright, everyone's favourite "Princess Bride" and also the love of "Forrest Gump's" life, is Moll, who learns to live by her wits after surviving her rocky start in sordid surroundings. Morgan Freeman plays the steadfast Hibble, her only friend, Stockard Channing is conniving Mrs. Allworthy, the owner of the brothel where Moll works, John Lynch is the frail artist who brings joy into her life, and ten-year-old newcomer Aisling Corcoran is a special treat to watch as Moll's rambunctious daughter Flora.
The look of the film is rich, Densham's faithful attention to period details is impressive and his screenplay is remarkably sensitive both to Moll's inner struggles and to the harsh environment in which she is forced to earn her way. Densham takes his time setting up the story, borrowing here and there from Henry Fielding and Francis Voltaire, in addition to Defoe, but the results are worth it for thoughtful viewers.
"Moll Flanders" is a definite rara avis for the summer: its success or failure will determine whether other producers will want to take a chance on more substantial themes during a season more attuned to merchandising tie-ins than to lovingly crafted films designed to make us think as well as feel.
(Air Date: Week Of 6/12/96)
Copyright 1996 Monica Sullivan
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