Celebrating 17 Years of Film.Biz.Fans.
by Jason Anderson
September 11, 2012 9:06 AM
1 Comment
  • |

TIFF Capsule Review: 'Great Expectations'

It’s hard to understand how things could’ve gone so wrong with this latest adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic cautionary tale of class mobility. For one thing, director Mike Newell is wise to have eschewed the genteel trappings of the many TV incarnations in favor of a grubby, even brutal naturalism more akin to Roman Polanski’s 2005 version of “Oliver Twist” or Andrea Arnold’s more radical take on Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights.” What’s more, Newell scores at least two casting coups by enlisting Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham and Ralph Fiennes as Magwitch, two very different figures who have an equally decisive effect on the development of our young hero Pip, a blacksmith’s apprentice who is mysteriously given a chance to become a proper gentleman in 19th-century London. Yet a weak central performance by “War Horse”’s Jeremy Irvine and an inelegantly condensed screenplay by David Nicholls are enough to lend a stiff, stultifying air to the whole proceedings. Though too handsomely mounted and well-played to rate as a total disappointment, it inevitably seems superfluous when stacked next to David Lean’s still-stately 1946 adaptation or Alfonso Cuaron’s rather more playful 1998 update. Criticwire grade: C+ [Jason Anderson]

You might also like:

1 Comment

  • CFD | September 16, 2012 4:35 AMReply

    "Yet a weak central performance by “War Horse”’s Jeremy Irvine and an inelegantly condensed screenplay by David Nicholls are enough to lend a stiff, stultifying air to the whole proceedings."

    In the two clips from the movie uploaded to Youtube, Irvine's acting is pretty much spot-on. His heartfelt delivery in the scene where he declares his love to Estella demonstrates a marvelous ability to make the most of Dickens' language, and displays exactly the sort of imagination and invention that's missing from the stiff, bland acting of so many of his Generation Y contemporaries. After seeing that clip, I'm not surprised Irvine already has a major cult following among teenage girls. Hollywood would be wise to take note.

    But professional film critics are so often wrong and obtuse in their judgments, and so lacking in the ability to recognize real acting chops when they encounter it in screen newcomers, that I've pretty much given up paying attention to what they say. They almost never get it right. Steven Spielberg, who really does know how to talent spot (Irvine's co-star, Ralph Fiennes, for example, is Spielberg's discovery as well) thinks Irvine is a total natural with a long career ahead of him. I'd bank on his judgment over yours.