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Dean Spanley

1h 40m Comedy, Drama 2008

AroView: This Kiwi-British production cross-breed is a charmingly eccentric, surprisingly moving ‘drawing room’ drama set in Edwardian Britain in which a father and son’s lives become greatly affected by a mysterious college dean who gradually reveals what appears to be his past life as a dog.

A superb cast in top form make the precarious concept work, with playwright-turned-director Fraser (NO. 2) keeping the tone commendably even while bringing out the highlights of Alan Sharp’s well-groomed script (based on a 1936 novella by Lord Dunsany). Performance-wise, consummate gent Jeremy Northam provides the backbone with a dulcet first person narration, a 76-year-old Peter O’Toole is in adorable curmudgeon mode, and Sam Neill as the liqueur-quaffing titular character, plays a rare but just-right measure of tongue-in-cheek. Even Oz-for-hire Bryan Brown feels like a perfect fit, as does the lush orchestral score by Kiwi music icon, Don McGlashan.


Toa Fraser




New Zealand, UK



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