Film: “Great Expectations” (2012)

Oh you know I’m going to make some joke on the title, don’t you? I can’t resist. So anyway, I had high hopes for this one (…). I’ve had reasonable success with the latest crop of adaptations of classic novels, but I’m pretty sure this is the first Dickens one I’ve seen (apart from the various A Christmas Carol adaps). I like these sort of films, I get to spend a bit of time with my sister, whose boyfriend wouldn’t dream of seeing something without a robot, superhero, robot superhero, or at the very least several explosions. Above all, we get the warming glow of smugness that comes with watching any high-brow film, deservedly or not.

Great Expectations movie poster

I was a little worried at the 3-hour runtime of the film, though this turned out to be a surprising typo in the cinema listings when the film finished 2/3 through. It did feel like 2 hours, but not necessarily in a bad way.

If anything, I think the pacing is my main criticism. The start doesn’t rush itself, but perhaps could have been a little tightened up. Actually I would have rather preferred a slightly longer film, as my main problem was the flood of plot exposition we get at the end of the third quarter. Too much to take in, and this is a rather crucial part of the story. That aside, it looked the part. Bleak countryside, revolting London, I didn’t feel like I was watching a movie set at any moment.

Jeremy Irvine’s “Pip” worked really well; dashingly handsome and emotively played. Young Pip was played by Jeremy’s kid brother too, he was pretty good (though I never get on with child actors that well). Opposite Jeremy was Holliday Grainger from “The Borgias” as Estella. She did well as the cold-hearted love interest, and I did get the sense of that inner conflict during her scenes. Did feel a bit odd that she was barely there for large parts of the film, but I guess that’s the book!

I hate to say she’s typecast, but is Helena Bonham Carter ever going to get tired of playing mental-looking ghoul women? That said, she’s got that nailed, and her Miss Haversham was always a scene-stealer. I was a little shocked at how the woman in the row ahead of me found Miss Haversham’s last scene so hilarious. I won’t say what happens, but WTF?! Bit of a moment-killer I think, shut up bitch!

The supporting cast did a good job, Ralph Fiennes, Robbie Coltrane, even Tamsin Outhwaite’s surprising appearance, first time I’ve seen her since Eastenders! Not too heavy going in the end, but just hard to keep up with in places.

PS if you freak out about spoilers, don’t watch this trailer. It’s not that bad, but I personally feel it gives a bit too much away.

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