I love the arts and creativity. My early career was in teaching, writing, producing and directing for film, theatre, comedy and improv shows. Now I'm a professional creative content producer, mostly on digital platforms.
Published April 28th 2021
Dickens classic goes for a modern spin
Raff Law is Twist
Twist sets the audience's expectations right from the get-go with the eponymous character's introductory voiceover. Set to the obligatory parkour action sequence one often sees at the start of contemporary action films, he reveals in this version of the Dickensian tale, there'll be, "No singing, no dancing, and definitely no happy ending."
Sophie Simnett parkours her way into Twist's heart as Nancy
It's easy to tell from the start, the movie is going to be a lot of fun. It's also apparent from five minutes into the flick that we will be deviating quite significantly from the narrative of the original novel. Anyone familiar with the book, the musical or previous films should expect characters to be aged up, aged down, gender-swapped, career changed, or eliminated from the story. While other characters are pure inventions that never crossed the mind of Mr Dickens.
This is a modern London where Fagan (Michael Caine) is an ex-art dealer turned criminal gang leader. Nancy aka Red (Sophie Simnett) is Oliver's age, Sykes (Lena Headey) is a woman, Bumble (Leigh Francis) is a Warden, Dodger, in this film known as Dodge (Rita Ora) is a young lady, and the gang are late teens instead of pre-teen urchins. If you're expecting anyone to be raggedly dressed, think again. This gang steals high fashion darling! The costume design by Charlie Jones really is something to behold.
Look out! Nasty Sykes (Leena Headey) is trouble!
Some viewers may find the lead, Twist (he's too cool to be called Oliver) looks a little familiar. Raff Law whose full name, delightfully is Rafferty Jellicoe Frost Law, is the son of Sadie Frost and Jude Law. He's a natural in his role and very believable. It is a little harder to believe though that the young man can look so clean and well dressed for someone sleeping rough, doing graffiti and parkour-ing his way out of trouble. Did I mention the parkour? There is a lot of parkour in this film.
Who doesn't love a bit of Sir Michael Caine?
Twist sees Fagan lead his gang into a complicated art heist to exact revenge upon Losberne (David Walliams). Losberne isn't the kind-hearted doctor you meet in the book either, he's an affluent art dealer and a bit of an entitled creep. So, you don't feel particularly sorry for him as the target of the gang's plot.
Twist (Raff Law) and Dodge (Rita Ora) twist and dodge their way out of trouble
There are a few moments of tension throughout the film, but overall, this is a fun little romp. A few of the supporting characters are very well cast and acted. Examples include Elliot James Langridge as the architect and Leigh Francis as Bumble who bring some enjoyable comical moments to their portrayals. Noel Clark does a great job tackling a more serious role of D.S. Brownlow.
You'll like David Walliam's portrayal of his unlikable character.
Twist would make the perfect teen date film. It might be a movie about criminals, but it has a strong moral compass. The action is impressive, the narrative is quite well-paced, and the acting is solid. It's visually quite lovely, especially in the flashbacks to when Oliver was a young boy.
Twist is directed by Martin Owen (The Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud) and produced by Unstoppable Film and TV, Pure Grass Films, FAE Film and Television. It's co-produced by Sky and Red Bull Media House and written by John Wrathall (The Liability) and Sally Collett. Producers are Matt Williams, Ben Grass, Jason Maza and Noel Clarke.
Starring Raff Law, Sir Michael Caine, Lena Headey, Rita Ora, Franz Drameh, Sophie Simnett, David Walliams, Jason Maza and Noel Clarke.