For anyone who loves Roald Dahl, you’d remember that we’ve been blessed with some lovely adaptations of his works of late such as Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr Fox. The BBC follows on this tradition with their adaptation of Esio Trot.
A feature length special narrated by James Corden, it stars Dustin Hoffman and Judi Dench in the lead roles of Mr Hoppy and Mrs Silver. Hoffman’s character is kind and loving old man who is painfully shy and lives by himself. It also happens that he’s head over heels in love with Mrs Silver and when she gets herself a pet tortoise called Alfie he suddenly finds an outlet with which he can express his love, and hopefully win her.
Anyone familiar with the books will know that Esio Trot is not necessarily the longest of stories, but in a mere ninety minutes both Hoffman and Dench make the time flash by. The bright colours manage and amusing predicament manage makes the adaptation charming for all. It’s a fun film which will amuse children with enough jokes and old music to capture the attention of older generations.
Dustin Hoffman pulls off a stellar performance as the sweet, introverted Mr Hoppy. Managing to not be wrong side of creepy but channelling the same eccentricity we saw from him in Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. In one scene where he has multiple tortoises in his flat but has dinner guests (rather) forced on him, he manages to pill off his conflicted feelings with just a few twitches of an eyebrow. He is Mr Hoppy, and buoyed by a supporting performance from Judi Dench the chemistry between the two is palpable.
The ending is a little different from the original, but no less poignant: it’s perfect watching as the holiday season slows down and January sets in. I’d like to also call out to the lovely score that runs along the film in perfect balance alongside the well framed shots. Who ever said romance had to be between the young and ridiculously clichéd?