(out of 5)
Writer-director Pen Densham has taken Daniel Defoe’s literary heroine and fashioned his own original story based on her character. It’s not as disrespectful to the classic as it sounds, but it is a bit skewered an idea for a movie (why not just change the name completely? Why trade off on the book’s fame if you’re not going to be the slightest bit faithful to it?). What results is an enjoyable and satisfying period soap opera about a plucky lass (Robin Wright) who overcomes a harsh childhood that would have made the Bronte sisters proud and survives a bad love affair with a lout (John Lynch), then helped by a kindly friend (Morgan Freeman) to achieve true independence in a male-dominated society. Taxing on your patience at times, and totally faithless to period detail, but never boring, the disappointment is that, in making his own story, Densham has made Flanders vulnerable and nice and not the careless libertine that Defoe wrote. It’s a shame that a movie can’t handle being about a challenging woman centuries after the book about her is published, robbing us of the pleasure of the author’s biting humour in the process.
Directed by Pen Densham
Story and Screenplay by Pen Densham, based on the character from the novel by Daniel Defoe
Cinematography by David Tattersall
Music by Mark Mancina
Production Design by Caroline Hanania
Costume Design by Consolata Boyle