Katniss Everdeen voluntarily takes her younger sister's place in the Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death in which two teenagers from each of the twelve Districts of Panem are chosen at random to compete.
A motorcycle stunt rider turns to robbing banks as a way to provide for his lover and their newborn child, a decision that puts him on a collision course with an ambitious rookie cop navigating a department ruled by a corrupt detective.
An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African-American maids' point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.
An at times gripping but overall meandering retelling
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 short, 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.
It 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. 6/10.
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