Dean Spanley

Dean Spanley

Dean Spanley

Dean Spanley sees local boy Toa Fraser return to the director's chair after his successful debut project No. 2. This was warmly received by critics and audiences at its premiere at Toronto Film Festival 2008.

Set in Edwardian England, this is a fantastical dramatic comedy about the relationship between the cantankerous Fisk Snr (legendary Peter O’Toole) and son, Fisk Jnr (Northam). A passing interest in the "transmigration of souls" (that's reincarnation to you and I) develops into much more when Fisk Jnr meets new clergyman Dean Spanley (Sam Neill). An odd chappy, Spanley - upon sipping on his favourite, exotic wine - seems to recall a former life. These strange insights relate to the Fisk family's past, and arise unexpected emotions for father and son.

Best Film, Director, Supporting Actor (O'Toole) and Screenplay at the NZ Film Awards 2009.
2009Rating: GNew Zealand, UK
ComedyDrama
11%
want to see

Reviews & comments

Variety

Variety

press

It's a dog's past life in "Dean Spanley," an immaculately cast, nicely handled and wafer-thin slice of Brit period-dress whimsy. Represents an odd sophomore feature choice for New Zealander Toa Fraser, whose big-hearted Maori family drama "No. 2" should have made more waves internationally... it does have its peculiar charms. But it's a talky, narrowly focused piece that feels like an after-dinner anecdote presented with the full ceremony of a formal meal. Pic will flit through theaters before finding more comfortable smallscreen berths.

0
Time Out

Time Out

press

Small film, big delight.

0
The Guardian

The Guardian

press

This is a delightful, oddly moving film, immaculately acted, carefully skirting whimsy, and nicely located in its period.

0
Stuff

Stuff

press

It is an intelligent, kind and gentle movie, with a lovely tale and a message about the glories of dogs and baying at the Moon. And every man, it seems, should have a dog.

0
New Zealand Herald

New Zealand Herald

press

Obscure Edwardian whimsy, but finely filmed and acted.

3.0
0
Newshub

Newshub

press

A touching story of filial love and a delight to watch.

4.0
0
Little White Lies

Little White Lies

press

It's a rather ludicrous setup for Toa Fraser’s Edwardian comedy; if it’s a premise you can swallow, you’ll probably enjoy the whole ripping yarn. The banter is quietly pithy, and the daft story eventually builds to a surprisingly moving conclusion – thanks largely to yet another masterful turn from O’Toole.

0
Hollywood Reporter

Hollywood Reporter

press

A dull and thoroughly stilly British drama based on the idea of canine reincarnation.

0
Empire Magazine

Empire Magazine

press

Wilfully whimsical and determinedly eccentric, this faintly bonkers period tale won’t be for everyone. But if you fall for Dean Spanley, you’ll fall hard.

4.0
0
Christchurch Press

Christchurch Press

press

Ingenious and absorbing, nothing is over-played in this English-New Zealand co- production, which was shot in both countries. From Don McGlashan's perfect score to Leon Narbey's gorgeous cinematography in muted shades that give way to golden tones of memory, this is a gently amusing, thoroughly entertaining and moving film. The theme of bereavement and reincarnation gives way to rebirth and the recreation of a thwarted relationship with great grace and style. Recommended for dog lovers and anyone with a heart.

0

If you ever loved a dog, do not miss this movie. Quirky movie, bur you will never look at a dog the same way again. The actors and the ramifications about life are great. Slow start and absurd, but absorbing.

0

Amazing writing and acting. Can't imagine a better father-son-dog tale.

5.0
0

This was a fantastic film. Brilliantly acted by great actors. Wonderful story line that gradually grows on you to a high point. It makes a change to see a movie that is devoid of death and destruction and four letter words of the type frequently used. Fantastic. I will see it again when I can

5.0
0

Hats off to all who had a hand in the creation of this spellbinding story. 10 out of 10 for the intriguing storyline, the acting & the cinematography. I strongly suspect that this will be one of those rare examples where the film is better than the book that inspired it. I will enjoy watching it again & predict that it will become an enduring classic.

5.0
0

A wonderful heart warming film, especially appealing to those of us with canine companions. The dialogue is gorgeous. The sentiment is lovely. Peter O' Toole is just fabulous.

5.0
0

An absolute gem. Superb acting by everyone. You laugh and you cry. It's far more than just a doggy tale, as delightful as that is. It's also about coming to terms with loss and grief. Congratulations to everyone concerned with this gem of a film. Well done N.Z.

5.0
0

A slow start but gradually draws you in. And what a fine group of actors Loved it and may well go to see it again. A really great short story from a former great author.

5.0
0

whimsical and a slightly charming is about it.

3.0
0

A numbingly boring film, devoid of drama, conflict, tension or incident. What a terrible waste to use such a wonderful cast in such a self-indulgent, plodding movie. After the first hour I would have welcomed Death's sweet kiss to save me from this awful film.

1.0
0

I loved it, best movie in a long time. Not a Neill fan but he was outstanding. I giggled throughout and it still brings a smile. Might go again.

5.0
0
Variety

Variety

press

It's a dog's past life in "Dean Spanley," an immaculately cast, nicely handled and wafer-thin slice of Brit period-dress whimsy. Represents an odd sophomore feature choice for New Zealander Toa Fraser, whose big-hearted Maori family drama "No. 2" should have made more waves internationally... it does have its peculiar charms. But it's a talky, narrowly focused piece that feels like an after-dinner anecdote presented with the full ceremony of a formal meal. Pic will flit through theaters before finding more comfortable smallscreen berths.

0
Time Out

Time Out

press

Small film, big delight.

0
The Guardian

The Guardian

press

This is a delightful, oddly moving film, immaculately acted, carefully skirting whimsy, and nicely located in its period.

0
Stuff

Stuff

press

It is an intelligent, kind and gentle movie, with a lovely tale and a message about the glories of dogs and baying at the Moon. And every man, it seems, should have a dog.

0
New Zealand Herald

New Zealand Herald

press

Obscure Edwardian whimsy, but finely filmed and acted.

3.0
0
Newshub

Newshub

press

A touching story of filial love and a delight to watch.

4.0
0
Little White Lies

Little White Lies

press

It's a rather ludicrous setup for Toa Fraser’s Edwardian comedy; if it’s a premise you can swallow, you’ll probably enjoy the whole ripping yarn. The banter is quietly pithy, and the daft story eventually builds to a surprisingly moving conclusion – thanks largely to yet another masterful turn from O’Toole.

0
Hollywood Reporter

Hollywood Reporter

press

A dull and thoroughly stilly British drama based on the idea of canine reincarnation.

0
Empire Magazine

Empire Magazine

press

Wilfully whimsical and determinedly eccentric, this faintly bonkers period tale won’t be for everyone. But if you fall for Dean Spanley, you’ll fall hard.

4.0
0
Christchurch Press

Christchurch Press

press

Ingenious and absorbing, nothing is over-played in this English-New Zealand co- production, which was shot in both countries. From Don McGlashan's perfect score to Leon Narbey's gorgeous cinematography in muted shades that give way to golden tones of memory, this is a gently amusing, thoroughly entertaining and moving film. The theme of bereavement and reincarnation gives way to rebirth and the recreation of a thwarted relationship with great grace and style. Recommended for dog lovers and anyone with a heart.

0

If you ever loved a dog, do not miss this movie. Quirky movie, bur you will never look at a dog the same way again. The actors and the ramifications about life are great. Slow start and absurd, but absorbing.

0

Amazing writing and acting. Can't imagine a better father-son-dog tale.

5.0
0

This was a fantastic film. Brilliantly acted by great actors. Wonderful story line that gradually grows on you to a high point. It makes a change to see a movie that is devoid of death and destruction and four letter words of the type frequently used. Fantastic. I will see it again when I can

5.0
0

Hats off to all who had a hand in the creation of this spellbinding story. 10 out of 10 for the intriguing storyline, the acting & the cinematography. I strongly suspect that this will be one of those rare examples where the film is better than the book that inspired it. I will enjoy watching it again & predict that it will become an enduring classic.

5.0
0

A wonderful heart warming film, especially appealing to those of us with canine companions. The dialogue is gorgeous. The sentiment is lovely. Peter O' Toole is just fabulous.

5.0
0

An absolute gem. Superb acting by everyone. You laugh and you cry. It's far more than just a doggy tale, as delightful as that is. It's also about coming to terms with loss and grief. Congratulations to everyone concerned with this gem of a film. Well done N.Z.

5.0
0

A slow start but gradually draws you in. And what a fine group of actors Loved it and may well go to see it again. A really great short story from a former great author.

5.0
0

whimsical and a slightly charming is about it.

3.0
0

A numbingly boring film, devoid of drama, conflict, tension or incident. What a terrible waste to use such a wonderful cast in such a self-indulgent, plodding movie. After the first hour I would have welcomed Death's sweet kiss to save me from this awful film.

1.0
0

I loved it, best movie in a long time. Not a Neill fan but he was outstanding. I giggled throughout and it still brings a smile. Might go again.

5.0
0