I just want to start this review by simply stating: I loved absolutely everything about this movie!
Bleak House is a classic story of love, mystery, and ultimately forgiveness, all spun masterfully around one woman's dark secret. Lady Dedlock (portrayed by an unrecognizable and brilliant Gillian Anderson, The X-Files) has a forbidden past that she will go to any lengths to cover-up. Around her life we see the other characters inter-twining and mingling to create a brilliant and complex mystery.
The book, Bleak House, is over 1,000 pages long, which could make any kind of screenplay for this Dickens masterpiece potentially hazardous. However, Bleak House moves along at a brisk pace, with several sub-plots all revolving quickly around one another (thanks to fantastic screenwriter Andrew Davies, Pride & Prejudice). It's also chocked full of all the gorgeous cinematography, costumes and locations you would expect to see from a BBC production.
The characters themselves, are enigmatic and delightful to say the least. Dickens has always been known for balancing the tragic, the absurd, and the love-able all together. It's easy to see the world of Victorian London through his eyes: the naive young lovers John and Ada, the cheerful and lovely Esther Summerson, the besotted and strange Mr. Guppy, and the sinister and evil Mr. Tulkinghorn (to name a few of the players in this well-rounded cast). Watch for British favorite Anna Maxwell Martin (Becoming Jane, North & South) as the heroine Esther, as well as a brief cameo from the outstanding John Lynch (Moll Flanders, Sliding Doors, The Secret Garden).
Bleak House is a refreshingly different British film that has jumped to #1 on my must-own list, and was even enjoyed by my husband *gasp* (who was as caught up in the mystery and characterization as I was). BBC does it again! Absolutely outstanding!