Great Expectations

DRAMA; 2hr 9min

STARRING: Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Jeremy Irvine, Holiday Grainger, Jason Flemyng

Grave business: from left, Irvine and Fiennes

Charles Dickens’s grand 1860 adventure has repeatedly been adapted for film and television, its characters ingrained into our consciousness: orphaned Pip (Irvine), who doesn’t have a bean but craves to become a gentleman; escaped convict Magwitch (Fiennes), who is not what he seems and never forgets a good turn; the tragic Miss Havisham (Bonham Carter) in her rotting wedding dress; tart-tongued Estella (Grainger), the love of Pip’s young life; Pip’s brother-in-law, kindly blacksmith Joe (Flemyng), who raises the boy as his own… The pomp and circumstance of director Mike Newell’s storm-tossed production stays true to Dickensian form with them all.


Pip, of course, has Great Expectations, off to London as a young man to realise his gentlemanly dream courtesy of an anonymous benefactor. Life is exciting and sweet at first, then later, not one bit, Dickens being big on triumph over adversity. He also makes shrewd observations about the empty egoism of the indolent rich. Some things never change, after all, and any story that has endured for centuries must have a proven truth or two up its sleeve.