A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Twist is a gritty British modern day retelling of Oliver Twist, with fast-paced action, gender-flipped characters, and some strong language and violence. Though the main characters are all thieves and hustlers, they mostly display good moral values and positive traits such as loyalty, bravery, and kindness. The value of teamwork is a key theme, but there's no escaping the fact that petty crime is being glorified. One particularly villainous character -- Sikes (Lena Headey) -- could bother younger viewers and the story briefly touches on the death of a mother and the idea of being alone in the world. There are several guns, two shootings, and some fist fights along with language that includes one "f--k." After a character is seen with a bloody lip and nose, it's suggested that she has been the victim of domestic violence. There is some smoking and drinking with one depiction of drunkenness. A lot of the characters initially put great importance on material goods, and some well-known brands are depicted. Despite this, the overall tone is one of a mischievous adventure, with cool characters and a rousing soundtrack.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
A modern interpretation of Dickens' Oliver Twist, TWIST sees artist Oliver (Raff Law) get involved with a rag-tag group of young grifters, led by master thief Fagin (Michael Caine). Seeing the potential in this streetwise charmer, the gang immediately enlist Oliver in their latest hustle -- an audacious art heist to retrieve a valuable painting that was stolen from Fagin many years before. As they come up against a smarmy art dealer, two earnest police officers, and the psychopathic Sikes (Lena Headey), Oliver and his new friends prove themselves to be expert con artists -- but when the heat is on, do they really know who they can trust?
Is it any good?
With a free running chase across London rooftops and a murder in the first five minutes, this modern spin on Dickens' classic sets itself up as a high-octane crime caper right from the off. Reminiscent of any number of Guy Ritchie movies, Twist is a morally ambiguous tale. Baby-faced con artists justify their thieving ways (they only steal from criminals) and charm themselves into the audience's affections with their audacious rule-breaking and lovable rogue shtick. A sparkling cast of top British talent includes the legendary Caine as a modern-day Fagin, and newcomer Law (son of Jude Law and Sadie Frost) as Oliver. Uncannily like his real-life father, Law has swagger but also a certain sensitivity. Sophie Simnett as Red (aka Nancy) is coolheaded and natural, while Headey plays the psychopathic Sikes with a chilling malevolence.
A misjudged moment when Sikes kisses Red -- against her will -- is overly uncomfortable and sinister, but goes against the generally larky tone of the story. Much is changed from the original Oliver Twist -- not least the gender-flipped Dodge and Sikes characters and the core plot line surrounding an elaborate art heist. But the essence is still here -- orphans, misfits, and thieves with honor working together to stick it to the man. It's clever, funny, and full of energy. Edgy enough for teens to enjoy but compelling enough for their parents too.
Talk to your kids about ...
Discuss the language used in the movie. Did it seem necessary or excessive? What did it contribute to the movie?
Discuss the "gender flipping" in the movie -- when a traditionally male character is re-imagined as a female role. Did it work for you? How did these characters compare to how you might have seen them portrayed before? Can you think of any other movies that have used "gender flipping" for certain roles?
Do you think any of the characters in the movie make good role models? Fagin's gang are hustlers but do they also have strong morals? Which characters displayed strengths like empathy, teamwork, or integrity?
How did this retelling of Dickens' classic compare to the original story? Do you think this is a clever interpretation or an unnecessary update? Should modern adaptations stick more faithfully to the novels they are based on?
- In theaters: July 30, 2021
- On DVD or streaming: July 30, 2021
- Cast: Rafa Law, Michael Caine, Lena Headey
- Director: Martin Owen
- Studios: Saban Films, Sky Cinema
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Book Characters, Friendship
- Character strengths: Empathy, Integrity, Teamwork
- Run time: 88 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: some violence and language
- Last updated: September 28, 2021
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