To be perfectly honest, I often prefer watching movies/ miniseries of Dickens works rather than reading them. Which is definitely not the norm for me- it's usually the other way around. But I find that Dickens, for all his brilliance at writing characters and plots, frequently drags his books out for far too long, as though he didn't know when or how to end them. Perhaps this is just a result of writing so many of them as monthly installments for publication... after all, if you're being paid by the episode, there's no real incentive to wrap up the story briskly or economically. When his works are adapted for the screen, however, a lot of the extraneous detail is of necessity pared down.
This is certainly true of this 2002 movie, which has been ruthlessly pruned of most of the side plots and ancillary characters. Perhaps a bit too much... I do find myself missing some of Dickens' great characters... for example, the Mantalinis and Peg Sliderskew. As well, Sir Mulberry Hawk is actually two characters morphed into one... in the book, while he is the lecherous cad who pursues Kate, it is quite another scoundrel- Arthur Gride- who is trying to marry Madeline. Also, among the plot lines which have been discarded is the eventual fate of the revolting Squeers. In the book, these blights on humanity receive their comeuppance, while in the movie this story arc is left hanging. There is no closure... for all the viewer knows, the Squeers might still be running Dotheboys, victimizing their young charges. Call me vindictive, but I want to see them get what's coming to them.