128 Min | Drama – Romance | November 2012
IMDB Rating: 6.4
Director: Mike Newell
Starring: Toby Irvine, Jason Flemyng, William Ellis
Great Expectations Review: This adaptation of Great Expectations did enchant me at some points. There was a definite highlight in the relationship between Magwitch (played by Fiennes) and Pip (Irvine). The issue, however, comes with a certain lack of focus in the film, it could have centered on the gripping dynamic of those two, but instead wandered between hopeless Estella-loving Pip and confused gentleman-aspiring Pip, not choosing to dwell on the excellent depictions of rough father figure Magwitch and reluctant son Pip. The best moments involved them – from the disbelief when Pip realizes who Magwitch is to the suspense and melancholy of their later scenes.
In Great Expectations, the acting was spot-on, but the story wavered. Director Newell walked a very fine line between kitschy and touching in depictions of Havisham, Estella and Pip’s relationship. With Estella and Pip’s main confrontation, for example, I found myself drawn in and absorbed by their emotions – but the over-the-top display of melodrama, with Estella over-symbolically torn between Havisham and Pip, quickly cut through the tension and made it veer toward the more absurd. Bonham Carter as Havisham was a good choice, but it seemed almost too obvious, she plays the part as if straight from Tim Burton’s CORPSE BRIDE, a film she herself has compared her character to.
Great Expectations was worth it to watch the excellent acting by Irvine and Fiennes. There were laughs and tension but it was all quite formulaic and the meandering film focus, finally leading to a spotlight on Estella/Pip but without a satisfying kick in the end, did not add up to a particularly memorable film.