Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * *
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Romola Garai, Hayley Squires, Paapa Essiedu, Katy Carmichael, Lucas Bond, Lara Bond, Alex Hassell, Sally Messham, Caolan Byrne, Emily Berrington, Ziggy Heath, Aislin McGuckin, Geoffrey Streatfeild, Ian Hogg, Christopher Godwin, Jack Brady, Graham Elwell.
You can be let down if you have high expectations of anything, the possibility of major adaption of a piece of literature can have you believing that television will treat any new drama with respect sometimes falls short, can leave the festive desert leaving the stomach and the mind as lumpy as a debut Christmas pudding offered to the table; over filled with sweetness, too much brandy covering the meal and the chance that it could become a smouldering wreck before it has even had chance to settle.
There is no doubt that The Miniaturist was a lavish affair, details in both costume and period attitudes uppermost in the mind of the viewer, and that is perhaps where the issue of dramatisation and expectation lay. It is one thing to have a costume drama absolutely basking in the sincerity of its period and catching the eye for the smallest possible detail but when the story itself doesn’t play with the imagination, when it feels stilted and less than commanding, then for all the costumes and detail is wasted, allowed to feel small and almost, unfortunately, diminutive in scale.
Like the Christmas pudding that sits heavy, so too did The Miniaturist play havoc with the beguiling hope that a good story might be expressed to its full potential, and even with a stirring performance by Alex Hassell as Johannes Brandt and Hayley Squires giving a tremendous account of herself as the maid Cornelia, there wasn’t enough substance to go round.
For all the attention devoted to the setting, what could have made the Christmas outing more memorable was the scenes in the courtroom where Johannes Brandt was being tried for supposed misdemeanours in business and cruelty and moral deviancy in his personal life, it fairness it could be argued that the scenes were not rigid enough, not possessing the full extent and weighted television muscle that could have truly seen the drama rise in appreciation and positive reception.
A good story not given its ample due, The Miniaturist sadly lacked the greatness that would have been promised.
Ian D. Hall