Great ExpectationsOriginal Title: Great Expectations
Director: Mike Newell
United Kingdom | English
Bringing an expert attention to Dickens – both the man and his works – along with a stellar cast and a quintessentially cinematic eye, director Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral) has crafted an adaptation of the Victorian classic that is utterly spellbinding.
Jeremy Irvine (War Horse) fully inhabits the role of Pip, lending a brooding disquiet to the figure of the erstwhile blacksmith’s apprentice who finds himself spirited off to London and a gentleman’s life thanks to the largesse of a secret benefactor. The luminous Holliday Grainger (The Borgias) portrays Estella, the object of Pip’s unrequited love, with disarming sang-froid. The rest of the cast boasts top-flight British performers, including Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham-Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Sally Hawkins and Jason Flemyng (who comes close to stealing the show as Joe the blacksmith, Pip’s long-suffering friend and would-be father figure).
Never shying away from the darkness inherent in the story, Newell’s film sounds the emotional
depths of the protagonists’ troubled upbringings – both Pip and Estella have suffered abuse and loss – and the consequences of their pasts on them as adults. This psychological
realism is matched by the veracity of both of the narrative’s settings: the wild beauty of the marshes of Kent and the vulgar dynamism of a bustling 19th-century London, the latter recreated with ingenious digital wizardry. Atmospheric, intricate and commanding, this is Great Expectations
as you have never seen it before.
– Kate Lawrie Van de Ven