One of Charles Dicken's most beloved stories is also the one that has been told the most, and by some of the greatest directors ever, including David Lean and Alfonso Cuaron. This time it is being tackled by Mike Newell, a director with the ability to get it very right (Four Weddings & A Funeral, Donnie Brasco) and very, very wrong (Prince Of Persia, Love In The Time Of Cholera). Coupled with that is an impressive cast of acting heavyweights and hot newcomers, so if expectations weren't exactly great, they were certainly pretty good.
The story centres on young Pip (Toby Irvine), a countryside orphan who is hired by local wealthy loon Miss Havisham (Helena Bonham Carter) to play in her mansion with her daughter Estella (Helena Barlow). Pip falls in love with Estella, and as soon as she falls for him, Miss Havisham kicks him out. Years pass by and Pip (now played by War Horse's Jeremy Irvine) gets a massive amount of money from a mysterious benefactor, on the conditions that he moves to London and becomes a proper gentleman. So off he goes to the big city, now under the watchful eye of his benefactor's accountant Mr. Jaggers (Robbie Coltrane). It's not long before Pip crosses paths with the all-grown-up Estella (Holliday Granger), and Pip's love for her is reignited. But he also has to deal with the trials and tribulations of being a London gentleman, with everyone seemingly trying to take away his money or the love of his life.
Perhaps the biggest problem with this adaptation is Estella and her claims that having being brought up by the heartbroken lunatic Miss Havisham has made it impossible for her to love, a claim that feels all too true. Granger's Estella comes across a bit too icy and detached, and it's impossible to understand why it is that Pip has so completely fallen in love with her. In fact, his blind love for this cold-hearted witch doesn't feel endearing, it feels totally irritating.
Despite this, there is still much to enjoy, from the fantastic performances - especially from Carter, as well as Ralph Fiennes in a small but important role -and the sure to be Oscar nominated costume and set designs. Unfortunately, it's unlikely you'll find much love in this adaptation of one of the greatest love stories ever told.