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
Based of the award winning book Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones See more »
[during Grace's burial]
Grace lived in a beautiful big house in London. She lived in one part of the house, I lived in the other. But... it was very hard not to notice Grace. I'd never seen anyone so black with teeth so white.
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It's truly amazing, but writer/director Andrew Adamson takes so many interesting elements that could have potentially made a great story and flattens them out so they are dull and boring. Perhaps this is the fault of the novel, I don't know having never read it, but on it's own Mr. Pip stands as a mediocre piece of art which is quite sad as it has an explosive backdrop and some quite lovely things to say.
Matilda Naimo (newcomer Xzannjah Matsi) lives on the island of Bougainville in the early 90s, during a vicious struggle for independence. Most of the men, including Matilda's father have fled overseas along with all the white population, with the exception of one white man, known familiarly as Popeye to the locals, who remains to take care of his wife, a native Bougainvillean named Grace. A blockade is imposed to starve out the rebels meaning their are no teachers and fewer resources. Despite not being a teacher, Popeye (real name Mr. Watts), decides to educate the local children, mostly by reading to them from Great Expectations. His eye is quickly caught by Matilda who is a whiz at math (something brought up once and then abruptly dropped), and she warms to him because she immediately strongly connects with the story of Great Expectations and the protagonist Pip.
A lot of the movie has to do with the power of literature and how strongly it can connect with people and help them through life. There are some nice scenes that show Matilda's point of view where she imagines Great Expectations but because she lives on a tropical island, the places and customs she imagines are much closer to her culture that Victorian England (a technique done to even greater effect in Tarsem Singh's The Fall).
Another thing is that a huge part of the conflict is Grace's mother Dolores being incredibly suspicious of both Mr. Watts and the novel Great Expectations. Her point of view was barely represented though, so when she makes a decision involving the novel which endangers the lives of the whole village it makes no sense and is not understandable to the audience.
Furthermore even Mr. Watts who becomes a mentor to Matilda is sort of obscured in mystery. This turns out to be on purpose for this a late ending reveal but it comes so late and feels so random that I couldn't bring myself to care.
A half-baked feature.
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