My GREAT EXPECTATIONS Are Met in this 2013 Film Adaptation

GREAT-EXPECTATIONS-PosterNot long after the BBC miniseries, the Brits have released a new film version of Great Expectations as well. I’ll never be one to balk at a new adaptation of one of my favorite novels, but I was extra excited for this film after being so disappointed by the miniseries. In that, director Mike Newell and screenwriter David Nicholls did not fail me.
This film is effortlessly cinematic in scope, giving a grand feeling to this lesson in tempered expectations. The film adheres very closely to the key events, moments, and characters in the novel while not getting too bogged down in the exact pacing of the novel. Much of the middle third of the novel that is so hard to trudge through is remixed with the final, thrilling third so that the film never quite loses your attention. And, while Pip and Estella’s relationship remains the central plot of the film, it is never blown out of proportion (like in other iterations of the story).
Jeremy Irvine is well cast as selfish pretty boy Pip, endearing enough to make you like Pip (no matter how unlikable the character really is). Miscast, however, is Irvine’s younger brother Toby as Young Pip. He’s too green to not let his overly expressive face turn every expression he makes into a comedic over-dramatization.
Speaking of overly-expressive, Helena Bonham Carter delivers a blessedly controlled performance as Miss Havisham. She never matches the nuances that Gillian Anderson brought to the character, but she does capture the sorrow and vengeance that ekes out of Miss Havisham. Holliday Grainger’s cold expressions are suited for her role as Estella, but Olly Alexander’s twinky performance as Herbert Pocket feels out of place (making this one, bizarrely, of the most homosexual adaptations of Great Expectations). Fortunately, the veteran actors in the film—Ralph Fiennes, Robbie Coltrane, Jason Flemying, Sally Hawkins—deliver great performances to outweigh some of the less-than-desirable casting choices.
For now, this Great Expectations will remain my favorite adaptation.

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  1. As much as I adore Ralph Fiennes as an actor, I did feel his role was exaggerated to be a bigger presence in the movie, since he was the big name in the cast. No complaints really, but an observation.


    • I don’t think his role was expanded, his character’s motivations and actions were just revealed earlier than usual in the story, making it seem that he was in it more.


  1. Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, now on film | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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