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.
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.
As Cecil Gaines serves eight presidents during his tenure as a butler at the White House, the civil rights movement, Vietnam, and other major events affect this man's life, family, and American society.
Director Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Donnie Brasco, Harry Potter, Love n the Time of Cholera, Mona Lisa Smile, Enchanted April, etc) joins with creative screenwriter David Nicholls (When Did You Last See Your Father?, One Day, Starter for 10, Tess of the D'Urbervilles) and a cast and crew of enormous talent and delivers what in this viewer's opinion is the finest version of GREAT EXPECTATIONS on film. Few explorations of this complicated, dense novel by Charles Dickens manage to make every character wholly credible no absolute villains or absolute heroes here, just a range of behavior throughout the spectrum that makes every character beautifully defined, making the intricate story wholly comprehensible.
The story is soften told that the plot is well known though never as fully realized as in this beautifully photographed (John Mathieson) and scored (Richard Hartley) version. Pip as a lad (Toby Irvine, Jeremy Irvine's younger brother) is terrified by an encounter with escaped convict Magwitch (Ralph Fiennes) and befriends him a significant moment in the story. The young orphan Pip is kept by blacksmith Joe Gargery (Jason Flemyng) and his horrid wife (Sally Hawkins) until he is engaged by the strange Miss Havisham (Helena Bonham Carter) in her strangely creepy house to play with her 'daughter' Estella (Helena Barlow). In rather rapid sequence the adult Pip (now Jeremy Irvine) inherits a fortune from an anonymous benefactor, his future seems promising. Estella (now Holliday Grainger) seems bent on a different life than one with the obviously infatuated Pip. Pip is off to London, becomes a wealthy gentleman, still pines for Estella, is supervised by Jaggers (Robbie Coltrane) until a series of secrets surface and the story proceeds to its complex conclusion.
The vast cast is populated with some of England's finest actors and they all give sterling performances. The costumes and locations and settings are splendid. And for once the complex Dickens' story makes complete sense. Highly recommended.
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