Time: 109 mins.
I generally love historical pictures because it's interesting to see how people lived before technology took over. After watching MOLL FLANDERS, I'm glad I wasn't born in 17th Century England. Robin Wright does an admirable job as the constantly beleaguered title character who is just looking for a better life. Orphaned and abused as a child and forced into prostitution to survive, Moll's life is anything but a bed of roses, yet she continues to have hope that it will work out in the end. Her beauty is her only weapon, yet it is also her downfall as all of the men in the film just want to possess her. When she meets an aspiring artist (Lynch), she gets a brief turn with love, which sets her on the path to marriage and motherhood, but it seems she just isn't meant to be happy. Despite all the horrors that life throws her way, Moll refuses to give up on her dreams wins, eventually gaining her the joy she's been searching for.
This is a dark, dark tale made enjoyable by the performances of Wright, Freeman and Channing. Freeman gives the film weight and a calming presence as Hibble, Moll's protector. Channing is brutally wicked as Mrs. Allworthy, the madame that tries to control Moll's life so she can make a tidy profit. While John Lynch isn't every woman's idea of Prince Charming, he's the nicest man in the film. He's the only one to see past Moll's obvious beauty and love her truly. Their relationship is at the core of film and gives it its only moments of light and peace. The rest of the time Moll's life is a horrible mess. The film is probably one of the truest looks at life during this time when disease was rampant and poverty the norm. It's not a pretty picture. Though it has it's slow moments, Moll's indomitable spirit infuses this film with a light that refuses to be ignored. That it works out in the end, is somewhat unbelievable, but also a relief after all she's been through. Moll deserves something better and this film delivers her story in a powerful and entertaining way. The film has its dull and absurd moments, but it hits all the right notes for those who don't always need a completely happy ending.