The 8th cinematic adaptation of Great Expectations, Mike Newell’s take on Charles Dickens’ classic novel arrives with a freshness more fitting of the first such attempt. Not shying away from the setting’s less glamorous elements, the director’s version goes heavy on squalor that attains an unexpected level of beauty through modern, picturesque imagery. From the meager seaside residence of Pip (Jeremy Irvine) and his blacksmith uncle Joe (Jason Flemyng) to the crumbling mansion of Miss Havisham (Helena Bonham Carter) and crowded, muddy London itself, half of the film’s charm is in its detail. The other half is in its cast and, as re-imaginings of British classics should, Newell’s film utilizes some of his country’s best modern actors, adding Robbie Coltrane, Ewan Bremner, David Walliams, and Sally Hawkins to the above names. Best of all is Ralph Fiennes, whose Magwitch owns each scene and generally looms over Pip’s societal rise. Stuffy filmmaking this is not and, perhaps more important, it’s the kind of adaptation that makes one want to read more by its author.
Rated PG-13 for some violence including disturbing images.
Great Expectations is currently playing at the Carolina Cinemas on Hendersonville Rd.