This looks like another vanity vehicle for Ralph Fiennes--he's done Hamlet, he's done Harry Potter, he's done Eugene Onegin--let's do MAGWICH.
Since when is gentle Joe Garger ready to go fisticuffs with the man who wants to give Pip a better life? This guy looks like Keith Urban and acts like a thug. And why did they have to paint Pip's sister with such an evil child-abusing brush? And then there's Fiennes' Magwich, who is a scowling slimy fusterer with neither menace nor warmth. He stoops, he shuffles, he fumbles, but he's not convincing. The other characters are completely forgettable nonentities. Mike Newell's direction plunges his characters into almost total darkness, and as such there's nothing for the eye to watch, and very little worth listening to in the script.
There's entirely too much brawling and violence--and of course we HAVE to have the money shot in Miss Havisham's burnt-black face--in this movie that provides nothing but a nasty distraction to the story. And, of course, there is another tacked-on happy ending. I thought the movie would at least be as honest as Estella was with Pip.
Save your time and watch David Lean's most excellent version. Even with its tacked-on happy ending, it's just a better movie to watch, and Ralph Fiennes can't come within a mile of Finlay Currie, a genuinely frightening visage whose human heart is eventually revealed in a scene that still moves me to tears.
It's a star turn for Fiennes, whom I would think had better judgment.
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