Review: Great Expectations

If you’re in want of a Dickensian fix, an enjoyable plot, and consistently impressive acting, you can happily pass your time viewing this latest adaptation

Director: Mike Newell
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane
Length: 128 minutes
Rating: ★★★☆☆

The household name of Dickens holds a warm place in the hearts of our country. The festive period seems to bring a renewal of these sentiments and we experience a seemingly an endless influx of Dickensian adaptions. So do we really need another version?

Well no, Newell does nothing ground-breaking in adding to the plethora of adaptations, but it is more than enjoyable nonetheless. This version updates and modernises the 1946 black and white film, but fails to shape its own identity.

Unfortunately, as is often the case with profoundly rich novels, the ending was rushed. The film felt truncated; particularly in Lady Havisham’s fleeting death, although we are honoured with some unprecedented gore in exchange for the screen time. Characters are omitted, Pip’s generosity towards Herbert Pocket largely unexplored, equally his selfishness and ignorance towards Joe – a heart breaking emotional aspect- is underdeveloped.

The film just wasn’t emotional or affecting enough. Joe and Pip’s relationship was initially too deliberately emphasised, only to be unforgivingly compromised in the apologetic cowering away from what should be a morally questioning passage.

Bonham Carter offered an assertive, and believable performance in conveying a character whose obsession with revenge breaks the hearts of our protagonists. However, she doesn’t instill the fear that Gillian Anderson’s harrowing depiction did- and that such a disturbing character ought. Despite this, all of the acting was as good as we might expect from the experienced cast. Even Pip and Estella’s love story felt convincing and impelling.

In honesty, if this had been more adventurous it would have been condemned as butchering a literary classic. So if you’re in want of a Dickensian fix, an enjoyable plot, and consistently impressive acting, you can happily pass your time viewing this latest adaptation.

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