Reviewed by: Bob Thompson
“Great Expectations” falls in line with numerous other films recently updated for the 1990s… this nineteenth century novel penned by Charles Dickens is only loosely based on the classic work read by decades of students and adults alike.
For those of you who have read the novel and plan to see the same story adapted for the big screen—beware! You may be disappointed. Estella (Gwyneth Paltrow), is still a snobbish young girl when she first encounters Finnagan Bell (Ethan Hawke). She calls Finn “the gardener,” derisively, and the movie is essentially the story of their lives and relationships. Anne Bancroft plays the wacky Miss Dinsmore, and Robert De Niro rounds out the cast playing Finn’s criminal benefactor, Arthur Lestik. Finn, known as Pip in Dicken’s tale, has a talent for drawing, and eventually draws Estella nude.
Not only does “Great Expectations” contain nudity, but profanity and violence as well. It has suggestive love scenes and explicitly nude portrait scenes. While “Great Expectations” can be considered romantic and artful, it can also be quite offensive to those offended by subtle nudity.
Estella and Finn always seem to have each other in view as they move in and out of each other’s lives. Like Pip in the novel version, Finn is born into poverty and could use a little financial help in the form of a benefactor. Estella is born wealthy and quickly becomes rather snobbish and takes some time to outgrow this. Apart from Dicken’s novel, Finn’s benefactor is scheduled to die by lethal injection. Yes—this is certainly updated for the nineties with this little social commentary.
If you look forward to seeing “Great Expectations”, don’t expect to take your kids or teens. The many inappropriate scenes limits the audience to adults only.