The idea of using 19th-century fabulist Hans Christian Andersen's stories as a way to investigate his emotionally turbulent life is provocative, but screenwriter Kit Hesketh Harvey and director Philip Saville fail to exploit its potential. Young Hans (Kieran Bew), the son of a chronically ill shoemaker and a slatternly laundress (Geraldine James) who works at an asylum, brightened his bleak childhood by making up and acting out fanciful tales. When his father dies, naive Hans makes his way to Copenhagen to live with his aunt. Unable to find her, he must take the most inexpensive lodging he kind find, which turns out to be in the attic of a whorehouse. Determined to ...