Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Great Expectations

In an update and modernization of the often filmed Dickens classic, we follow Finn (Pip) as he aids an escaped convict on the Florida marshes, becomes the playmate of cold Estella at the behest of of the jilted Ms. Dinsmoor (Havisham), and travels to New York City where he puts on an art show courtesy of a mysterious benefactor and foolishly pursues his childhood sweetheart. "Great Expectations" is well directed by the fine auteur Alfonso Cuarón. Ethan Hawke who I have always found to be an erratic actor does nothing here to change my mind, sometimes hitting the right notes as the naive and innocent Finn and other times hitting notes that are so out of left field you wonder just how he came up with them. His character's narration of the film is unnecessary and does not add to the story. Gwyneth Paltrow does a nice job as Estella and is extraordinarily sexy and the great Anne Bancroft does a good job as Ms. Dinsmoor in a role that is written in all the wrong ways. Robert De Niro and Chris Cooper offer fine supporting roles as well. I wanted to emphasize Cuarón's excellent and beautiful direction, but when you adapt a familiar and beloved work such as this and mesh it with modern music, language, and locations, the result is jarring. Besides all that, there just seems like there is something missing from the picture and in the context in which it is presented, Dicken's timeless story simply does not work here.