Dean Spanley (15)

Toa Fraser (100 mins), starring Jeremy Northam, Peter O'Toole, Sam Neill, Bryan Brown
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The Hungarian sweet wine Imperial Tokay will never be paid a nobler tribute than it is in this gentle tale of Edwardian spiritualism. It's the favourite tipple of one Dean Spanley (Sam Neill), an enigmatic clergyman who becomes a focus of interest to Henslowe Fisk (Jeremy Northam), the story's narrator. Enduring his cantankerous father (Peter O'Toole), Fisk invites the Dean to dinner and listens to the strange stories of his past life – as a dog. "Only the closed mind is certain," is his defence of this mystical metempsychosis. How it links to the death of Fisk's brother Harry in the Boer War is the dramatic crux of Alan Sharp's script (adapted from a novel by Baron Dunsany), and the only drawback to its fey shaggy-dog story is the ponderous pace. But Northam and Neill are both on good form.

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