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.

London Film Festival 2012 Launch

The BFI London Film Festival’s full programme was announced on Wednesday 5th September. This year, the festival is slightly shorter (twelve days instead of fourteen), but screenings will take place at more venues around London. Prior to the launch, it was announced that Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie would open the festival, and the new adaptation of Great Expectations would close it.

There are not many surprises in the programme. One change to this years proceedings is the dividing of films into new categories such as ‘Love’ and ‘Thrill’. I’m not sure exactly how this will pan out for films more difficult to define. The gala screenings offer some anticipated films, such as Ben Affleck’s Argo and Hyde Park on Hudson, starring Bill Murray. Documentaries that look interesting include The Central Park Five, Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, and Love, Marilyn. Also to look out for are Seven Psychopaths, Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time, Antiviral and The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

The BFI London Film Festival runs from 10 – 21 October 2012.