Film Review: “Great Expectations”

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Great Expectations, 2012

dir. Mike Newell


Wow. Just… wow.

This film is truly, truly beautiful.

Okay, I’d love to talk about how much of a faithful adaptation to screen this is, but alas, I haven’t read the original Dickens novel yet – I know, I know, you’re thinking “will she ever read any of the books from the movies she recommends? jeez”, but there’s really nothing I can do about that – but what I can comment on is how incredible this is, as a film.

First of all, casting. They cast Toby Irvine as young Pip, which was quite ingenious, since he actually looks a hell of a lot like his older brother – lovely Jeremy Irvine, whom we all know from the likes of War Horse. Mr Jeremy Irvine is still fresh in the acting world – at least, the TV/film acting world – but we already know he’s great. Not only does he look adorable – frankly, he looksadorable – be he’s also very very good. Not BAFTA-worthy yet, but that’s yet. He’ll be great some day. (I have high hopes for the future of the British actors… as long as they keep coming with the Jeremy Irvines (and Toby Irvines), Asa Buttefields, Colin Morgans, etc) Not only was his performance solid and steady, it was also full or life, and by God, I love an actor that can cry on cue.

And the young Estella was brilliantly played by both Helena Barlow (in her younger version) and Holliday Grainger. She’s absolutely beautiful – and with that red hair and those eyes, who wouldn’t? – and is incredibly believable as the spawn of Miss Havisham’s vengeance on men.

Speaking of Miss Havisham: HELENA BOHAM-CARTER. I won’t say a word further – this woman is everything. She’s beautiful and talented and I can just watch her be weirdly brilliant forever and ever… Only the highest of praises for her. Seriously, if anything, you should go see this movie for her. It’s amazing.

I could go on and on about the amazing cast of this film, but I’ll make a last stop on the ever-so-awesome Ralph Fiennes station. I mean, seriously. Solid performance after solid performance. How has he not won an Academy Award yet? He was perfect in Schindler’s List, The English Patient, Harry Potter,Skyfall, even in Coriolanus – even though I did care much for that film, but that was because Shakespeare and I don’t seem to ever get along, somehow – he proved to be as good a directo as an actor. But in Great Expectations, as Magwitch, he was gruesome, scary, intimidating, sweet, endearing, all the works. By the end, you wanted to give him a hug and a cup of tea, and just shave that hair off. Truly brilliant.

Besides the casting, the whole thing was phenomenal.

Honestly, just take a look at the costumes! Such beautiful clothes. Estella’s dresses were to die for, as was Miss Havisham’s wedding gown. And the men’s outfits were also unbe-fucking-lievable! The gentlemen’s club would git perfectly well on a catwalk, no-one would tell the difference. And the hair-and-make-up department needs a standing ovation because oh-dear-lord! Absolutely fantastic! Magnificent, really.

(I do love those dark Victorian styles, actually… especially when it’s Dickens… they do a great job with Dickens!)

Anyway, I’ll wrap this up by saying that this is thoroughly enjoyable and truly wonderful. I can’t say it’s comparable to the novel, but I’m sure the BBC did a good adaptation – they always do, don’t they? I’m almost inclined to forgiving them for ending Merlin and postponing Sherlock!

So get off your computer, move towards the nearest cinema and go see Great Expectations!

review by Mariana Duarte


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