Opening 13 Dec 2012
It has been two hundred years since the birth of Charles Dickens, who wrote this memorable coming-of-age story of a young orphan named Pip. The story is told in first person, and the novel is intricately woven with many eccentric characters such as Miss Havisham (Helena Bonham Carter), Abel Magwitch (Ralph Fiennes), and Mr. Jaggers (Robbie Coltraine). The novel sheds light on the social and economic climate of that time, which is through the eyes of Pip who is growing and developing into a young man. It is not unexpected that yet another film has been made based on this novel. Great Expectations has been the basis for a number of films, plays, and television series dating back to the first silent film made in 1917.
Mike Newell’s film portrays a romantic Victorian period piece which follows the melodramatic relationship between Pip (Jeremy Irvine) and Estella (Holliday Grainger). The opening scene of the young Pip running to his mother’s grave reminded me of another recently made film, Jane Eyre. These running scenes focus on the person who seems lost in the enveloping landscape and only fate will set them in the direction they need to go. Strangely enough, Holliday Grainger had a part in that film as well and does a fine job in both films. Jeremy Irving is a newcomer, with his first film being Spielberg’s film War Horse, and has a lot on his shoulders playing the main character. Ralph Fiennes, Robbie Coltraine, and naturally Helena Bonham Carter shine in their roles while they set obstacles in the way of this young couple as they try to come together. The music and the cinematography set the scenes, giving it this romantic but melancholic flair. The film is entertaining but failed my great expectations, especially since I remember the brilliant BBC series that managed to catch that feeling that Dickens was trying to capture. (Shelly Schoeneshoefer)