A look at the latest take on Dickens’ Great Expectations that won’t let you down.
Directed by Mike Newell, the new adaptation of Dickens’ classic is a fresh take on the story. It largely remains faithful to the novel, the film shows the complicated ties between the characters and events that weave together and affect Pip (Toby Irvine and Jeremy Irvine – War Horse).
Despite its long running time, the film moves quickly between events, from Pip’s first encounter with the convict Magwitch (Ralph Fiennes – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), to his time with Miss Havisham (Helena Bonham Carter – The King’s Speech), to his experiences as a young gentleman in London.
The film has beautiful settings, with views across marshes and the decrepit Satis House plus a quite convincingly filthy view of London that represents the change in Pip’s circumstances. The beautifully decorated London homes and eerily dark marshes are also eye-catching, and the costumes are beautiful. In fact, the only fault is the overly gruesome death of one character, which does not quite fit with the tastefully handled passing of others, nor the film’s overall tone.
Brothers Toby and Jeremy Irvine share the portrayal of Pip, Toby plays the younger whilst Jeremy takes over as he matures. They deliver a convincing performance of a poor boy eager to leave his mediocre surroundings. Hopelessly in love with the cold Estella (portrayed as a youth by Helena Barlow, and then later by Holliday Grainger – The Borgias) Pip leaps at the opportunity to travel to London and live as a gentleman, provided by a mysterious benefactor.
With a star-studded cast, including David Walliams (Little Britain), Jason Flemyng (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), Jessie Cave and Robbie Coltrane (Harry Potter), as well as Olly Alexander (Gulliver’s Tavels), the film had a lot to live up to. Helena Bonham Carter steals the film as Miss Havisham, a wealthy lady jilted on her wedding day, remaining in her wedding dress and raising the young Estella to break hearts in a vicarious revenge against men. She gives a disturbing portrayal while Holliday Grainger’s role as the complicated Estella cleverly invokes sympathy.
This retelling of Dickens’ well-known novel proves that the story is just as absorbing today as it was a hundred and fifty years ago.