London Film Festival 2012 – day twelve: Great Expectations
The closing film of the 56th London Film Festival was Mike Newell’s take on Charles Dickens’s classic tale of social upheaval, Great Expectations. A stellar cast led by Helena Bonham Carter (Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland), Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter, Schindler’s List) and Robbie Coltrane (Harry Potter, Brave).
One of the biggest problems with Great Expectations is that it feels all too brief when compared to the expansive plot of the book. Not only does it feel like a rush through Dickens’s book but it also lacks some of the depth of other cinematic adaptations. This is another problem, when making a film version of such a familiar story, one would expect something really quite different or skillful to justify it’s existence. Mike Newell’s attempt just doesn’t manage to achieve this.
The success of the actors’ attempts to take on such well trod roles varied in success. The ever dependable Ralph Fiennes plays an excellent Magwitch and Helena Bonham Carter does an interesting take on Mrs Haversham. It may be a little overplayed and nuanced for some. The issue is for a story that’s been adapted so many times it’s hard for the audience not to bring expectations with them. The brothers Irvine (Jeremy and his younger brother Toby) play a pretty bland Pip, especially when held up against David Lean’s classic 1946 adaptation. While Pip is played a little bland, one has a feeling that Newell is to blame in his direction and not with the young actors.
Mike Newell’s Great Expectations could not be called a bad film, it’s just that it feels wholly unnecessary. Nothing particularly special is on display here, Newell may have gone a bit too gloomy for this to be enjoyable. The whole piece has a muted tone and considering the slightly melodramatic source material this seems like a bad decision.
Read more reviews from the 56th London Film Festival here.
Watch the trailer for Great Expectations here: