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For fans of the 1998 Gwyneth Paltrow/Ethan Hawke Great Expectations, the latest update from Director Mike Newell may seem unnecessary. For those that like their film adaptations a little closer to their books, however, the Jeremy Irvine/Holliday Grainger offering will be a refreshing change. The young stars deliver a faithful rendition of Dickens’ classic tale – Grainger in particular embodying Estella’s strange and contradictory nature, the vulnerable ice queen, vindictive yet regretful. The real highlight of the film – unsurprisingly for her fans – is Helena Bonham Carter’s Miss Havisham; just the right balance of malicious and pathetic. Likewise, Fiennes’ Magwitch walks the fine line between the gruff diamond in the rough and the more complex portrait of a man desperate for redemption. The latest version of this timeless novel is anchored by these key performances. Set in its original era, and beautifully shot, it will please fans of Dickens, while still pulling enough punches to entertain audiences less familiar with the book. (KB)

 

*** 1/2