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Great Expectations is one of my favorite novels and I have seen every screen adaptation to date. None has made more impact on me than the David Lean version. I was so looking forward to Mike Newell's version which seemed to have the perfect casting. I was though quite disappointed. Granted that it is very difficult to tell this story in a couple of hours of screen time, but that is no excuse for making a film which rushes through the events in the book without providing sufficient depth of the characters and motivation for their actions for the audience to feel empathy with them. Such a story deserves a longer screen time or alternatively cut out some of the secondary characters and provide more focus on the main characters. The film has a very "Harry Pottery" look which is no surprise since Newell made one of the films in that series. Performances are generally fine, with Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter predictably stealing the main honors.
The past few years have seen an increase in creative adaptations of
classic novels. Mike Newell's Great Expectations may seem uninspired
compared to challenging and inventive films like Anna Karenina or
Wuthering Heights, down to the easy casting of Helena Bonham Carter as
a crazy old woman and a score that sometimes sounds lifted piece by
piece from Pride & Prejudice. Newell surprises, though, and has
imagined a solid and remarkably captivating and evocative counterpart.
For those who never took freshman year English, Great Expectations is the story of a common orphan, Pip (Toby and Jeremy Irvine), who lives with his horrid shrew of a sister (Sally Hawkins)and kind-hearted father figure husband (an excellent Jason Flemyng). One day, Pip runs into an escaped convict (Ralph Fiennes) who terrifies him into stealing food and a file; the convict takes a liking to him before he is recaptured and taken away.
Pip is later selected by neighborhood freak Miss Havisham (Helena Bonham Carter, stretching herself) to play with her adopted daughter Estella (Helena Barlow and Holliday Grainger). He believes Miss Havisham wants to mold him into a gentleman so he can marry and provide for Estella, until she helps him become a blacksmith and bids him goodbye. Years later, Pip falls into a large fortune from an anonymous benefactor, and after making himself presentable, he returns to Estella.
I've been careful to limit my excitement since Newell's involvement was announced. 20 years ago he would have been the perfect choice, but after he attempted to make an action scene out of every dramatic beat in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and bastardized the poetic beauty of Love in the Time of Cholera, I'd lost faith. Great Expectations, though, is a return to form for a once-upon-a-time master of the genre. While it occasionally suffers from genre confusion (Bonham Carter's scenes play out more comedically than they perhaps should have), his habit of making things more action-y than they really are actually enhances the material here - the fire and boat scene are a thousand times more adrenaline- packed than in the novel - and the enthralling pacing, expertly crafted visuals, and lively dialogue and performances add up to a very fine film.
The visual aspects deserve special mention for how much they bring to the movie. It feels as if the cinematography and art direction are working to illustrate and expand on the writing, rather than simply constructing a picturesque background (which Newell was guilty of in Cholera). Scenes at Pip's home look heavenly, with golden lightning and wide shots making his world look endless and welcoming. By contrast, when he becomes a gentleman, close-ups, dreary costumes and dark, windowless rooms contribute to a more claustrophobic and icy atmosphere. The cleverness of the lighting is particularly pronounced when Pip and Estella reunite after years: we see a close-up of Irvine, with only darkness behind him, then one of Grainger in a hallway lit by brassy lanterns, positioned almost as if they are lighting a path for him to follow. The last time we see Estella, as a changed woman open to Pip's affections, is the first time we see her in a wide open space. These visual cues are simple and unintrusive, but enhance subtext and recreate the poetry of Dickens' novel.
Irvine is a capable and likable enough lead, but the film belongs to the supporting cast. Bonham Carter's interpretation of Miss Havisham is intriguing, if not perfectly executed. It recalls her performance in Big Fish, where she toes the line between outlandish and pathetic. Grainger's Estella is beautifully acted - her delivery of "I am what you made me" is chilling. Jessie Cave and particularly Jason Flemyng give adorably heartfelt and rustic performances, while Olly Alexander is hilarious and brings heaps of life to a normally dull character. The true star, though, is Ralph Fiennes. It's a shame this didn't get an Oscar push, because with a strong narrative and a proper campaign, he could have been a serious threat. Fiennes completely sinks into his character; there isn't a trace of his past performances as well-groomed, eloquent gentleman. He's frightening and savage, but oddly sympathetic, and in his more intimate scenes he absolutely devastates. There are memories of an entire life behind his eyes. Without a doubt this is one of his best performances and sadly it seems it will go unrecognized.
It's not quite a perfect film - it's very short and so some characters and themes get lost in the shuffle, and certain tonal shifts feel jarring and inappropriate - but it's a damn good one. Newell seems to have finally found a functional dynamic for a period piece, a happy balance between contemplative and spirited. Due as well to his phenomenal cast and production team, he's done a wonderful job of bringing a difficult and gloomy novel to life.
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.
Far from a terrible film but rather disappointing too, seeing as this
did have a lot going for it. Plus the trailer actually looked really
good. There are certainly some good things, even when a film or series
doesn't quite work there are not many times where there is nothing
redeeming about it. This Great Expectations does have a fair few merits
and the best of these merits actually come off quite well. The costumes
and sets are both beautiful and evocative, and the reuniting of Pip and
Estella has some very clever lighting, there is great atmosphere and
poetry in this moment. The music is haunting, is fitting for the tone
of the film and doesn't overbear things too much. The opening scene is
very atmospherically effective also, though the adaptation that did
this scene best and quite possibly without equal is David Lean's.
And while the acting is inconsistent, there are some very good performances, and actually most of the performances fall into the very good category. The star was Ralph Fiennes, his Magwitch was both creepy and tragic, in the earlier scenes Fiennes is chilling but later on he is very likable and you feel pity for the character. Helena Bonham Carter really gives her all to Miss Havisham, wonderfully bitter and dramatic, if physically a little too on the voluptuous side for a character that is described the complete opposite in the book. Jason Flemying is an excellent and dignified Joe, Robbie Coltrane is firm and somewhat larger than life as Jaggers and Olly Alexander's Herbert Pocket is eccentric and quaint as well as earnest and upbeat, a very engaging performance of a potentially dull character.
Jeremy Irvine looks the part for Pip but his acting style came across as too overwrought and too innocent, while Holly Grainger looks radiant but not cold enough for Estella. They are marginally better than the miscast leads in the respectable but flawed 2011 BBC adaptation, but only just. David Walliams mugs his way through the role of Uncle Pumblechook and painfully so, it may work for Little Britain but it is completely wrong here. Toby Irvine and Helena Barlow are very competent and work well together, if lacking that extra spark to make them truly memorable, Barlow also could have a little more spiteful.
Aside from these problematic casting choices there are other reasons why this adaptation of Great Expectations fell short. It is a very difficult story to adapt, Dickens generally is difficult to adapt, but the story is not very engaging here, though there are some bright spots like the opening scene. The pacing can get tedious while some of the details are rushed through and under-explained, the Pip, Estella and Miss Havisham scenes veer towards the absurd rather than the tense and the scenes between Irvine and Holliday don't have that much pulse. The ending is also very badly bungled.
The script can get rather trite and wordy with some awkward tonal shifts. And while the period detail is great and there are moments where the lighting is clever, the way the film looks is rather too grim, too much of the Harry Potter and Tim-Burton-at-his-most-Gothic vibe. Mike Newell does deserve some credit for bringing out the story's dark approach but too often it is too emphasised so the film generally lacks life, and consequently the dark obsession that is at the heart of this great story comes across as rather flat. Overall, a long way from bad but not as great as it could have been, personally this was a mixed feelings sort of reaction towards the film. 5/10 Bethany Cox
Acceptable translation of classic Dickens book with a competent
direction by Mike Newell . The movie deals with an orphan child called
Pip (Jeremy Irvine, though Alex Pettyfer turned down the role) meets on
the dark moor an escaped convict hiding out in the Victorian English
countryside called Magwitch (Ralph Fiennes) and helps him . A kindness
that will change the course of Pip's life , though he doesn't realize
it . Magwitch escapes and is aided by young orphan Pip ; then Magwitch
discovers a fortune , which he decides to use to make him into a
gentleman . Later on , at a musty mansion Pip meets an old woman , Miss
Havershan (Helena Bonham Carter , though Meryl Streep was approached
for the role, but turned it down due to scheduling conflicts), and a
beautiful girl called Stella (grown-up, a haughty beauty Holliday
Grangier , though Rooney Mara turned down the role) who has been raised
by the eccentric Miss Havershan . Pit suddenly becomes a gentleman with
the support of an unknown benefactor and his advocate (Robbie Coltrane)
. But his enemies would like to get Pip's inheritance for themselves .
Meanwhile , Pip befriends Herbert Pocket (Olly Alexander) and Pip's
likable flatmate .
The film is an alright adaptation based on Charles Dickens's novel , being pretty well directed by the nice director Mike Newell . In the movie there is intense drama , a love story , emotion , tragedies and is pretty entertaining , though has more style than substance . Although the images and settings are compelling , the filmmaker should have learned that beauty on the surface isn't all essential . This is a respectable but sometimes dull recounting about notorious novel , being finely performed , splendidly staged with adequate sets , stunning visuals and interesting drama of a well known story . Newell's professional retelling of Dickens tone but easily dwarfed by the classic 1946 David Lean's version . Well-acted by all , but especially by Helena Bonham Carter's slightly pathetic and mad Miss Havishan decided to wreak havoc on the male gender ; Helena stated in an interview that she wore only one shoe for the shooting , as Dickens described Miss Havisham as wearing only one shoe . Jeremy Irvine's enjoyable acting as starring , he's romantic , sympathetic , attractive but also vulnerable and memorable . Robbie Coltrane as the agreeable lawyer is top notch , and secondary cast as Ewen Bremner , Olly Alexander , Sally Hawkes , Jason Fleming , among others , are excellent . Special mention to Ralph Fiennes as the unknown benefactor who becomes Pit into a well-heeled gentleman . Atmospheric as well as colorful cinematography by John Mathieson . Evocative and sensitive musical score by Richard Hartley . Rating : Above Average . Well worth seeing for Charles Dickens lovers .
There are many adaptations about this famous novel , they result to be the followings : ¨Great expectations¨ (1943) by Stuart Walker with Phillips Holmes , Henry Hull , Jane Wyatt , Francis L Sullivan ; ¨Great expectations¨ (1946) by David Lean , considered to be the greatest version of the Charles Dickens novel with John Mills , Finlay Currie , Martita Hunt , Valerie Hobson , Alec Guinnes , Jean Simmons , Francis L Sullivan , possibly the best Dickens on film . The modern rendition by Afonso Cuaron featured by Ethan Hawke as Pit , Gwyneth Paltrow as Stella and Anne Bancroft as Miss Havershan is deemed average . And several TV adaptations and miniseries such as : 1981 with Bratford Jones and John Hickson ; 1987 The untold story with John Stanton , Sigrid Thornton , Anne Louise Lambert , 1989 by Kevin Connor with Anthony Hopkins , Jean Simmons , John Rhys Davies , 1999 by Julian Jarrold with Ioan Gruffud , Justine Waddell , Charlotte Rampling and Bernard Hill .
Before the review starts I must say that it might be a little biased.
Coming from another country, before I saw the movie I had never heard
of the book (maybe the title once or twice in a different translation)
or any of the movie adaptations. For everyone else I suspect it wasn't
as interesting as it was to me.
The movie is about a boy, Pip, who gets in the possession of some money and coming from a poor background, goes on to become a gentleman in London.
The movie is filled with a very well-known cast, e.g. Helena Bonham Carter and Jeremy Irvine, and directed by Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). As seen from previous movies, everyone delivers a remarkable performance, especially Carter with the wounded character of Miss Havisham (there's a good twist around the end involving her). Another great stand out was Holliday Grainger in the role of Estella. I loved her, and will be definitely looking at what projects she chooses in the future. It was a nice surprise when she appeared in Anna Karenina (2012), and although just for a couple of seconds, she played her part there very well too.
The story, although I've never heard of it, is a classic. It's handled very well, and the love story too. Two people that were never meant to be together. Even though Estella is trying to push Pip away, Pip always comes back. There is definitely chemistry between the two.
The sets and costumes were another high point of the movie. The women's wear in particular worked very well for the time period in which the story is set. The depiction of 1980s London was very graphic and very well done. Nothing seemed CGI, and all the sets looked very realistic.
Every movie has a flaw, and nearly every time it's the pace. The movie did slow down around the middle, after Pip arrives in London and settles down. Not much happened.
I recommend this to most movie fans looking for a good drama. Fans of the story will probably dig the new adaptation too. Enjoy.
Acting - 10/10 Costumes - 10/10 Pace - 8/10 Sets - 10/10
Overall - 9/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As someone who loves Charles Dickens and the work of director Mike
Newell, I have been eagerly anticipating this film since its release in
England last fall. I was fortunate enough to attend its Arizona
premiere at the Scottsdale International Film Festival on October 7th,
and I have to say that all my anticipation was well justified. It is
more than just a good film or a faithful adaptation of one of the 19th
century's greatest novels; it is a masterpiece.
I can't understand why so many reviews, both critics and the public alike, are so negative. It is a good watch whether you've read the novel or not. Literary purists will enjoy it for the fact that it stays so close to the book, and casual film buffs will appreciate that the twisting Dickensian plot is made comprehensible enough so that they can follow along as well. Having watched other adaptations including the much-lauded 1946 Lean film version, which was, incidentally, the last time this story made it to the silver screen, others pale in comparison. There is not a thing about it that I would change or want any different. It is probably the best film I've seen all year.
Hats off to screenwriter David Nicholls, who manages to successfully translate a 450+ page novel into the perfect 2-hour film. He kept it to just the right length--long enough to avoid feeling butchered, but short enough so that things weren't dragged out longer than necessary. The pacing was good, and I never felt like something had been "cut out", a rare feeling in a production like this. The preservation of Dickens' own dialogue and his occasional touches of humor lends an authenticity rarely felt in adaptations of his work (ref. BBC's disastrous 3-hour miniseries).
The visual look is lush of the film is lush and gorgeous, with evocative landscapes of the Kentish coast and Gothic interiors looking equally appropriate. The choice of costumes and hairstyles is intriguing, a stylized mash- up of 19th century with a pseudo-theatrical flair, particularly those of Estella's, which was the only element that seems out of place in the story's time period, but overall it works in this film.
What I found to be the most pleasant surprise was how well acted this film was. So many actors seem to fall into the trap of allowing over-the-top theatricality and quirkiness overpower the human side of their performance and all but ignore the fact that Dickens intended his characters to come off as real people, but that trap has been cleverly avoided. The entire cast is ideally suited to their respective parts and give real, moving performances. Jeremy Irvine and Holliday Grainger as the older Pip and Estella gave better performances than I expected from the trailer, and look out for Toby Irvine, Jeremy's real-life younger brother, as Young Pip--he's a scene-stealer! Helena Bonham Carter simply is Miss Havisham, and plays her as she should be played, slightly dotty, but with a reason for her madness. Robbie Coltrane is excellent as the less-than-trustworthy Jaggers, and Jason Flemyng as Joe is literally an exact replica of the character as I imagined while reading the novel. The real standout, though, is Ralph Fiennes as Magwitch. His beautiful eyes carry the character to perfection, and along with a believable but intelligible North Country accent, it's hard to imagine anyone but him in the role.
To sum up, Mike Newell's "Great Expectations" is unquestionably one of the best Dickens adaptations ever made, certainly the best of feature-length, and I recommend it to anyone.
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.
It seems like every year we get a new film based on the classic take by
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations. There are so many versions, it is
pointless to make another one. Apparently people disagreed though as we
have another update, this time starring Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph
Fiennes. I adored the 1998 version even though it was critically
panned. I cannot say the same about this movie. The performances were
excellent and it has a majestic scope, but the narrative is just a
little uneven for my taste.
By now, we should all know the plot to the film. But in case this was someone's first big-screen adventure into the story, Mike Newell's film is about a boy named Pip who is given a chance at a gentleman's life in London thanks to a mysterious benefactor.
As said before, the film does have excellent performances namely by our two British veterans in Carter and Fiennes. Carter makes an excellent Miss Havisham and she is delightfully weird, just like in most Tim Burton movies. Fiennes also gives all he got as the convict Pip meets in the beginning. Jeremy Irvine, known for his role in War Horse, does a solid job and same goes for Holliday Granger as Estella, Pip's romantic interest. I also thought Jason Flemying was excellent as Joe, and the scenes between Joe and Pip were quite powerful.
Overall, the latest Great Expectations remake tries it very best to succeed thanks to the lavish production design and it excellent performances, but it fails to live up to previous films. It is certainly not bad, but it doesn't bring anything new to the table. That being said, it still is good to watch. They do a good job in recreating nineteenth century London and the countryside. It shows how different life was compared to today. Not a bad film, but not a great one either. Perhaps no more adaptations in the near future, studios. I rate this film 7/10.
Thematically speaking, Mike Newell's GREAT EXPECTATIONS depicts a world in which money talks: where rich n'er-do-wells such as Bentley Drummle (Ben Lloyd-Hughes) manage to find the girls of their choice, while fundamentally good people such as Pip (Toby/ Jeremy Irvine) end up unlucky. To survive in this world, Pip has to shed his humanity; this is especially evident in his offhand treatment of Joe Gargery (Jason Flemyng), when the blacksmith comes to visit him in London. Likewise Estella (Helena Barlow/ Holliday Granger) is brought up in a world where any display of emotion or human feeling is considered weak; hence she believes it is her destiny to marry Bentley, even though the couple are not in love with one another. The quintessential representative of this rapacious world is Jaggers (Robbie Coltrane), who believes that everything - including human beings - are to be bought and sold for money. Hence Joe Gargery should be happy to accept twenty-five guineas in exchange for Pip. Unless you've got money, you'll not have any Great Expectations. Newell's film is also very good at depicting the relationships between Pip, Estella and Miss Havisham (Helena Bonham Carter) - although somewhat young for the role, Bonham Carter comes across as a fundamentally vindictive person, who enjoys playing with Estella and Pip's feelings in revenge for her own frustrations at being jilted on her wedding-day several years previously. As with most BBC- inspired costume dramas, the sense of place is beautifully evoked, even though Jim Clay's production designs; nineteenth-century London is a teeming, threatening world in which self-interest prevails. This is contrasted with the rural Kent coast where Joe and his sister (Sally Hawkins), a lonely world of sprawling landscapes and russet sunsets. Perhaps the only criticism that might be leveled at this adaptation is the fact that David Nicholls' screenplay runs out of steam somewhat: the plot-details are rather hurriedly wrapped up in the last half-hour at the expense of characterization and atmosphere. This is a shame, as it deflects out attention from the developing relationship between Pip and Abel Magwitch (Ralph Fiennes), which proves beyond doubt that compassion is far more significant than money to ensure human survival.
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