As a part of the BBC's Christmas program, The Miniaturist is an exciting adaptation of Jessie Burton's thrilling novel. The program is built on a strong foundation of plot, design, and style and succeeds further with its compelling cast of actors. Although not the best Christmas program has put out in the past few years, The Miniaturist is still an intriguing watch this holiday season.
When 18-year-old Nella Oortman (Anya Taylor-Joy) is chosen to become the wife of wealthy merchant Johannes Brandt (Alex Hassell), she moves from her home in the country to Amsterdam, where she is expected to become the mistress of the Brandt household. Nella finds herself a prisoner in her home, which is fraught with mystery and tension. She is soon caught in between the tensions of Johannes and his sister Marin (Romola Garai) and their business transactions, all the while an unknown miniaturist (Emily Berrington) is sending Nella ominous messages.
The Miniaturist, adapted by John Brownlow from Burton's best selling novel, is a gripping and mysterious drama that follows a perfect pace to keep the audience captivated from start to finish. The opening act is perfectly constructed to drop the audience into this mysterious world - and provides just enough exposition to catch them up with the backstory they have missed. The Miniaturist continues to intrigue with its fine level of mystery. The program is perfectly paced so it never drags nor does it feel too rushed. Although at times, it feels as if character developed is sacrificed for plot. Brownlow's adaptation seems to neglect any attempt to provide more than sub-level character details in order to have a succinct two episode adaptation. The Miniaturist also stuns with its gorgeous set and costume design. Typical of a BBC drama, the production transports the audience into 17th century Amsterdam with ease, but it never becomes too stodgy and overly stylized that it bores.
The Miniaturist is also gifted with an all-star cast, led by the ever wonderful Romola Garai. Garai gives an almost haunting performance as the stern, and complicated, Marin Brandt. She gives little indication of her character's true intentions, other than the occasional flicker of insecurity. Her cold facade is rarely broken, but when it is, Garai projects, mostly through the eyes, the soul of a woman tortured by captivity. The programs other leads, Anya Taylor-Joy and Alex Hassell, give compelling enough performances to keep the story flowing, but they aren't as giving as Garai. Taylor-Joy is a compelling enough protagonist, and, despite the misconception of her character's place, she is strong-willed enough to hold her own in the close-knit household. She never succumbs to the temptation to play a timid damsel, but rather finds her strength to become the house's mistress.
The Miniaturist continues tonight at 9 on BBC One