22 January 2000 | suessis
While young Sarah Polley is not meant to be the featured child in this film she certainly steals the limelight from Mairon Bennett. She does a wonderful job as the young cockney orphan who becomes Jane Stuart's staunchest ally. Her performance and Colleen Dewhurst's make the film a joy to watch. Sam Waterston does a credible job as the father although I think that he carried the lost and confused act a little too far at times.
I am not meaning to say that Bennett isn't good because she is. In fact the only performances that I was disappointed in was Patricia Philips as the mother. She seemed to over do it a bit at times and was somewhat melodramatic.
Other stand outs in the cast include Zoe Caldwell, the great stage actress, as the grandmother, and Vivian Reis as the conniving Aunt. Although it shouldn't be possible, Joyce Campion and Florence Patterson steal scenes from Colleen Dewhurst.
Kevin Sullivan's version is very different from the original book mostly in terms of the feel. Sullivan adds more of supernatural element that offers a chance for some well done special effects.
I recommend this film highly for family night viewing.