As a war rages on in the province of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea, a young girl becomes transfixed by the Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations, which is being read at school by the only white man in the village.
Mr Watts is the only white man left on the island after the blockade. He opens the school and introduces the children the 'Great Expectations.' Matilda, the teenage narrator finds comfort in the story of a Victorian orphan when her own world is falling apart. The Redskins, an army sent to destroy the local rebels are getting closer. Matilda writes 'Pip' in the sand. This simple act leads to terrible consequences when the Redskins suspect Pip to be a rebel leader and demand he be brought before them. Written by
[opening lines, voiceover]
Our teachers told us that the place we lived was called Bougainville, part of a small group of South Pacific islands owned by Papua New Guinea. But according to my mother, our island was a woman and we lived in her heart. She said no one could own that. But Papua New Guinea sold our heart to a mining company.
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Amazing stuff that stumbles and goes for sensation and artifice
Mr. Pip (2012)
Wow, did I want to like this movie. It was different at the outset and it had a great leading man, the lead from the t.v. show "House," Hugh Laurie. It was set in Papua New Guinea where a village of locals was terrorized by an outside military group. The white man in the midst of these very dark-skinned natives is part of the outer conflict by his difference, but really Lauries plays an insider, too, and hence some of the interest.
On top of this is the cool plot idea, which eventually becomes a contrivance, based on the Dickens novel "Great Expectations." In fact, the leading character of that book, Pip, becomes an unwitting character here. It's subtle and often touching and sometimes brilliant.
But it's also uneven, and preys upon the audience for sympathy, which is a deal- breaker for me. There are times when the movie is unsually brutal, and though I don't doubt the brutality of militias in the fringes of the world, it doesn't make a movie, at least not as a centerpiece.
It's true, the plot continuesit moves from continent to continent, and the leading character (not Laurie) is now a young girl from the tribe on this island who befriended her white tutor. And it's always interesting, though a bit forced. There are times when the conflicts are about conflict. And there are tender, intimate insights into cross-cultural issues. And not only the English white world versus the tribal world of New Guinea, but also the traditional culture vs. the new Western-influenced world that was so often militarized and corrupt.
I think some people will be blown away by all of this. I'm looking at it with a bit of a distance, thinking of it as a movie, regardless of its emotional impact. And it really is a bit sloppy and indulgent. But give it a shot. It's different, and that's a winning trump card.
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