Cinematic Thoughts for Cinematic Minds
2012/ UK, USA
Director: Mike Newell
There have been a range of adaptations of Charles Dickens‘ Classic over the years, including the 1998 modernised Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow version that we pretend does not exist. So it’s understandable when another adaptation crops up out of nowhere the presses don’t stop and people don’t stand in the streets gazing up at billboards in giddiness.
A young Pip (Toby Irvine) whilst visiting his mother’s grave gets pounced on by an escaped convict (Ralph Fiennes) who then scares poor Pip into helping aid in his escape. Terrified of not complying to this mad mans wishes Pip does as he is told. Filled with the compassion of a young child, Pip also brings the convict some food and drink, all at the expense of a beating from is bitter sister. But no good deed goes unpunished.
After his efforts of keeping the convicts arrival in the area concealed, he eventually gets captured by the police and put back into prison. Young Pip doesn’t have too long to dwell on these events as his life finds a new chapter in the household of Miss Haversham (Helen Bonham Carter). A crazy, cold hearted and slightly enchanting woman who acquires Pip so that he may play with her niece Estella (Helena Barlow). As is with children of the fantastical world, Pip almost immediately falls in love with this rude and uninterested spoilt child who makes him realise he wants to be more than a Blacksmith in life. Gladly their acquaintance is cut short so that we no longer have to endure her scripted ways.
Sometime in the future we are lucked with a sweaty hard working man who can only be described as a British version of Supernatural’s Dean Winchester (played by Jared Padalecki). This matured Blacksmith gets his old wish of leaving behind his life when a mysterious benefactor pays for him to have everything he needs to become a Gentleman. Now living the high life in the stylistic black attire only town of London Pips re-acquaintance with Estella, a more refined version of her younger self is at this stage inevitable.
It would have been more excitable to watch Pip learn to be a gentleman through lessons in etiquette and speech than to just cut to him looking more gentlemanly and hanging around with other rich and rowdy young men whose only purposed seemed to be to show how pretentious Pip had become, and to give way to foe and competitor Bentley Drummle (Ben Lloyd-Hughes)
Miss Havishams look I felt was slightly too over the top, she felt more like a delusioned corpse bride than a woman crazed from a broken heart. Especially as nothing else in the movie was intensified to that effect, this made her character seem on another level. Lastly except for a few meaningful scenes the relationship between the matured Pip and Estella is greatly under explored.
I enjoy classic adaptations as much as the next person but it’s quite possible that tales such as Great Expectations need to be buried deep in the screenplay writers’ trunk of possible book to movie ideas. It has gotten to the point where if another adaptation should rear its head in the next three years they should change the title to a more suitable: Same Expectations.