Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy and Romola Garai
Available on Amazon Prime
A young woman moves to 17th century Amsterdam and hires a mysterious local miniaturist to furnish the dollhouse she received from her merchant husband as a present, but the lifelike miniatures somehow start eerily foreshadowing her fate...
Yes, it has flaws. Yes, it has justifiable criticisms. Yes, it has many, many things that would cause one to blast and hate the series. But for beautiful entertainment, we love it. So those that don't like it, that's ok!, you can move along to another program. And... if you like Anna Taylor-Joy (and we do!), you'll love this series! Keep reading...
Although some of the characterization lacks depth (especially Johannes of the main characters), Burton's depiction of the 17th century Amsterdam setting is so attentive to detail that one feels like unseen observers of the action and the atmosphere has a real eeriness and mysteriousness.
Again, 'The Miniaturist' is not perfect. Visually it is quite an achievement! It's sumptuously shot, atmospherically lit and the period detail is like a puritan era-set/Rembrandt painting come to vivid life. The mix of austere and not-so-austere (with flashes of brighter colors in Nella's costuming) costumes was striking. The doll's house was beautifully designed and suitably mysterious, while the miniatures were exquisitely eerie.
The music score is understated yet hypnotic. The dialogue provoked thought and intrigued without letting go. It is very stirring and taut in the trial scene too. Where the 'The Miniaturist' really succeeds too is in the atmosphere, again advantaged by the source material.
The story unfolds in a slow-burner way but the mysteriousness, subtle tension, eeriness and dark dread to me it didn't feel ponderous. The climactic moments are quite powerful, and, even though one wishes they could have gotten to know the characters more, it is hard not to feel that the outcome is an injustice.
The direction is atmospheric and draws out uniformly great performances from the cast. In particular Romola Garai, a revelation in a formidable but complex roles. Anya Taylor-Joy enchants and affects as Nella, avoiding making her too passive, while Alex Hassell is brooding and charismatic, particularly telling in the trial scene where Johannes makes a very persuasive case for himself. Hayley Squires is a spirited Cornelia while Geoffrey Streatfield brings authority to Frans, a character that part of you hates.
Goodies score: 10!