Great Expectations – TIFF 2012

This won’t be the longest review because I just don’t have much to say about Great Expectations. I’ve never read the book, and excepting the South Park episode I’ve never seen an adaptation of it before this. So I’d hoped that by going into it relatively unspoiled, and already in love with the cast, that I’d at least enjoy it. Instead I found myself positively dying from boredom. It was amazing to me how little I found myself caring about the story and its characters. It started of as being an issue of unpenetrability – the characters lives were not relateable or empathetic at all. Pip is a young man who develops lofty ambitions when given a taste of the aristocratic life, and a high-born love interest. Characters at the start of the film berate Pip for not being grateful to those who raised him, but at the time he doesn’t seem ungrateful, just abused. It seems logical that he’d want to leave and find something better. But when he is presented with the chance to leave his sudden rejection of Joe the blacksmith, his best friend in the whole world comes off as confusing rather than tragic.


I had to go see Great Expectations because of the cast of favourites. But while all of them did a fine job it almost seemed to be in spite of what they were given to work with. Ralph Fiennes can do no wrong in my book, but he was given so little that his performance seemed flat. Helen Bonham Carter just seemed to be playing herself, and Robbie Coltrane’s role could have been filled by any male actor – nobody distinguished themselves. It’s a difficult option to have – I don’t want to dislike it, to be contrary. Director Mike Newell came to the Q&A and listening to him speak about the plot and characters made me like it a bit more. Until I realized that he’d only improved my option of the story, but not his movie.