Film Review: Great Expectations

Director Mike Newall offers a faithful adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic with Great Expectations.

Orphan Pip lives with his sister and her blacksmith husband. Pip’s humble upbringing is altered irrevocably when a mysterious benefactor wants to make him a gentlemen…

 Mike Newall’s version of Great Expectations is a traditional period drama. The film remains faithful to Dickens’ classic. All the main aspects of the novel are included in this film adaptation. Some minor elements are omitted, presumably because of time constraints and pacing. However, this does not alter the overall narrative. It is a lot more faithful than the recent BBC television adaptation of Dickens’ novel.

There are quite a few characters and strands in Great Expectations. Screenwriter David Nicholls manages to balance these out, without omitting important elements or making the film feel weighed down. Despite a running time of over two hours, Great Expectations never feels overlong, or slacking in its pace.

Newall’s film is beautifully shot. Great Expectations is visually sumptuous, making the most of its locations and sets. Similarly, costumes in the film are excellent. The film is styled very much like a traditional period piece; there is a lavishness to the look of Great Expectations.

Casting in this adaptation is spot on. Ralph Fiennes makes a fine Magwitch, while Jason Flemyng’s Joe tallies with the novel. Jeremy Irvine and Holliday Grainger offer good performances as the adult Pip and Estella. Helena Bonham Carter is perfectly cast as Miss Havisham. Bonham Carter encapsulates the character with an entirely believable performance.

Great Expectations is escapist drama for the winter season. Traditional and sumptuous.

Film Review: One Day

One Day is a well-written romantic drama that should satisfy its audience. Whilst it fulfils the conventions of the genre with its themes, the format of the film offers something a little different.

Dexter and Emma spend night of their university graduation together; the beginning of a long and tumultuous friendship. Over the course of twenty years, Emma and Dexter are visited on the same day – 15th July. Sometimes the pair are together, sometimes they are apart…

Based on the best-selling novel by David Nicholls, One Day features well developed characters that are convincing. Focusing dominantly on the two protagonists allows their characters the time and space to evolve. This is intensified by the fact that the film takes place over the course of twenty years. Visiting the protagonists briefly each year allows viewers to see the changes in their personality. One Day is concerned with such a pivotal time in a person’s life (from graduation to the late 30s), that the changes in character are significant, even if appearances remain quite similar.

The year-by-year construct allows the audience to explore details of the characters’ lives for just a snapshot. The incidents that take place on this date are not always the most exciting, but they are believable. Moreover, it works well to retain the viewer’s attention. Not all the facts are made clear from the outset, so the audience must wait until detail is filled in later down the line.

The format of Lone Scherfig’s film calls for a reproduction of different periods from the last two decades or so. The most obvious way this is depicted is through styling and music. The costumes and styling are great in the movie, and are sometimes a cause for amusement. Those who are a similar age to the characters (or indeed older) will look back at the portrayal of the early nineties with a certain fondness.

The music used in One Day is integral in setting the period. The choice of songs is good, and really effective in defining the time frame. The graphics used to illustrate the date are also interesting. Attempting to place these in a different way for each year ensures some creative results.

Anne Hathaway gives a solid performance as Emma. She gives a good shot at her character’s regional accent, and is convincing in the film’s emotional moments. Jim Sturgess is also great as Dexter, while Ken Stott offers good support in a minor role.

The film can be a little syrupy, but at times is genuinely moving. One Day is a well-executed film that should do well with its intended demographic.