Marion Hart
November 01, 1996 AT 05:00 AM EST

Moll Flanders

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG-13
runtime
123 minutes
performer
Morgan Freeman, Robin Wright, Stockard Channing, Aisling Corcoran
director
Pen Densham
author
Pen Densham
genre
Drama

We gave it a C-

Literary types whose knickers got in a twist over the Hollywood liberties taken in Demi Moore’s The Scarlet Letter had better steer clear of this adaptation of Daniel Defoe’s 1722 classic Moll Flanders. Downplaying the novel’s richly amoral story of a bigamous fortune huntress and thief who deserts her passel of children, this Moll subjects Wright’s heroine to a painfully tedious comeuppance by dwelling on her descent into prostitution and alcoholism — made all the more maddening by some unintelligible accents, which not even a rewind button can help decipher. The movie, with its contrived happy ending, ultimately turns the wraithlike Wright into a victim, and Freeman — in the thankless role of a servant who befriends her — fares little better. By denying Moll complicity in her rise and fall, this version squanders the tale’s fun and poignancy. C-

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