Projections - Movie Reviews

Great Expectations

Who would be foolish enough to rewrite Dickens? The film is publicized as loosely based on Dickens. It is difficult, however, not to compare and this work pales in comparison. It probably would have been a good idea to give it a different title.

Set in a small Florida town, Finn Bell (Ethan Hawke) faces his childhood with his Uncle Joe (Chris Cooper) after his sister, Maggie (Kim Dickens) disappears in frustration. Finn paints, but otherwise is a common, ordinary kid with no social status. Estella (Gwyneth Paltrow) lives with her aunt (Anne Bancroft), who exists in a world bordering insanity, filled with hatred for men. She was jilted on her wedding day. The large seaside mansion she resides in is seriously dilapidated and has not been altered since her tragic wedding day.

Growing up together, the kids shared countless hours dancing and playing. When Estella is old enough, she leaves without even saying goodbye to Finn. The only other event in Finn's childhood occurs when he befriends a criminal (Robert DeNiro).

Years after Estella disappears and Finn has become a fisherman, a lawyer comes bringing wealth and an opportunity for Finn to paint. Finn believes he is being groomed to become Estella's partner in life. When the to meet, she is engaged to be married and has become just what her aunt wants her to be - a heartbreaker with no emotions or feelings. She is the aunt's revenge on all men and Finn is the primary target. Their on-again, off-again adult relationship is filled with sensual contact and features a nude painting scene.

Paltrow appears uncomfortable rather than in control of a position in which she overpowers men. Her loss of emotion drains her rather than drives her. Hawke performs well but there is little to work with in this watered down version of Great Expectations. Bancroft is a great crazy old lady, but Ms. Dinsmoor's most powerful scene is eliminated. When DeNiro is on the screen, the strength of his character and performance are obvious and impressive.

Overall, Great Expectations never occur. It is rated R for nudity.

Great Expectations


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