There was a time when I found Charles Dickens, “Miss Havisham”(Helena Bonham Carter crafted for the character) wildly, weirdly, romantic; jilted on her wedding day, spending her life, encased in her bridal finery as sanity morphs into lunacy; preparing her ward, “Estella” for society and manipulating poor “Pip” whose “expectations” never attain “greatness”. Sadly, the tale is stale and incapable of generating the pathos of the nineteenth -century into the present day.
Jeremy Irvine as “gentleman” Pip (his younger brother, Toby Irvine: the child Pip) is passable as a man totally lacking in acuity, intellectual stimuli; a misfit in a world of debauchery, inebriation, a sphere where financial security insured indolent days and ways.
Holliday Grainger, loved and perpetually unattainable, Estella, captures the hardened heart and flimsy facade of a femme fatale, trained to wreak havoc, but minus the mystery and substance of a woman capable of inspiring all- consuming devotion; in actuality a vain, superficial twit.
Director Mike Newell’s stroke of wisdom in casting Ralph Fiennes as the convict “Magwitch” is reason enough to visit “Great Expectations”; stunningly superb interpretation of a criminal whose sensitivities were transformed by a serendipitous encounter with a young boy, touched by the shackled, terrifying escapee; here, is one of Dickens’s most intriguing characters and Fiennes imbues the role with acute, insightful depth.
“Great Expectations”, lovely to look at, but wanting the auratic lure of compelling captivation; ultimately, “much ado about nothing”.
TWO & 1/2 STARS!!