Charles Dickens wrote over a dozen novels, novellas and short stories in his lifetime, but according to most film adaptations he might as well have only written three. The latest in a long line of Dickens adaptations for the big screen is, yet again, Great Expectations, this time featuring Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham, and a bunch of other people I’ve never heard of looking desperate and Victorian.
Jeremy Irvine stars as Pip, the boy who has great expectations (do you get it?!) as he’s removed from working class life and thrust into the world of the bourgeoisie. That’s only half the story, of course. Pip has fallen for the cold-hearted Estella (Holliday Grainger), the ward of the crazed Miss Havisham (Bonham Carter), who was abandoned at the altar years before and uh, never really got over it. There’s passion and anger and nice Victorian clothing, the novel itself a tale of class and and gender conflict within Victorian Britain.
Most film adaptations completely pass over the deeper social and political implications of Great Expectations in favor of the rather maudlin love story between Estella and Pip. This film looks no different from, say, the 1946 David Lean production, except for a bit more shouting. If you don’t already know the story, you will before the trailer is over, because it tells you literally everything, almost from beginning to end. I’m not certain why anyone should go see the movie now.
Other than Bonham Carter doing her usual (and enjoyable) crazy woman thing, I see nothing in this trailer to inspire great hope for Great Expectations. It doesn’t look bad, really, but it doesn’t look good either. It just looks like yet another overheated costume drama. Honestly, if you want Dickens, go read some Dickens. It’s far better and more complex than anything a mainstream film can dole out.
You can watch the Great Expectations trailer below and decide for yourself. Then go check it out in a limited release on November 8.