Honestly: this was an incredibly uncomfortable film experience. First, my bag of candy made an awful noise when I carefully tried to withdraw some. It was awkward. The four other people in the theatre looked at me. I think. I cannot say for sure as I hid my eyes in shame. And the film sucked.
I went to see this because I had four hours of free time when on a literature competition in a strange city – I was alone, bored, the weather was awful, and I always like seeing films in theatres. Or at least I used to.
I would talk more about my adventures in the foreign city1 to postpone the film talk but might just as well get over with it. I did not like Great Expectations.2 At all. I’ve never read anything of Dickens’ that’s not a children’s book but I was hoping this would lead me to it (and frankly, I was expecting something grand and elegant like The Great Gatsby – or how I imagine it to be, at least) but I was greatly disappointed. How do I say it? It sucked.
How good can a film be (even with Ralph Fiennes3) if the two main plots are far-fetched? Scarce chemistry between those in love have ruined good pairings before – and honestly, this pairing wasn’t even good. Even though I adored 5-year-old Pip, his admiration for Estella weren’t authentic from the beginning (whereas for Joe, it was). I saw Pip much humbler than he was, I guess, especially with the teenage Pip. For me, he turned into a brat without any character. The line “what will be my occupation” – was one of the few that seemed in place.
The other part I just didn’t get was the relationship between Pip and Magwitch. Magwitch’s devotion was mostly justified but Pip’s bipolar attitude was, again, far-fetched. I could say that it was just my antipathy toward Pip but then again, I liked him on a few occasions – namely when he was with Herbert Pocket (Olly Alexander) – these were the few scenes in the film I liked. Herbert was my favourite character by far – he was charming, his (second) introduction was awesome and he had some of the best lines. He had the exactly right amounts of compassion, humour, quirkiness and wit in him.
Neither that, nor the strong ending, though, were enough to save the film, though. Magwitch’s story, interesting as it was, was rushed, and Pip’s presence made it worse.4 Pip and Estella’s relationship portrayal took up too much time – time that could have been spent on Magwitch and Compeyson, another part which was left unclear. They handled Havisham much better, though – Helena Bonham Carter was made for the role and that was one part of the film that really did feel complete and all in all, lovely with its surreal sadness.
In the end, I have nothing more to say but to agree with Robbie Collin – “Great Expectations is about as comfortable as a very fat man sitting in a very small aircraft seat.”
1 I only got lost once! It was incredible – I tend to get lost more in one day in my own home town.
2 can we move on now? No? Alright then.
3 um, and along with half of Harry Potter’s cast? Robbie Coltrane was perfect in his role and I liked Jessie Cave (who played Biddy – and Lavender Brown in Harry Potter) and when there was the food fight scene (is it obvious how little I understood that part yet?) I thought that all the British kids are exactly the right age to be there – guess I was right.
4 nobody cares, Pip.