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IN SHORT: Pointless.
More than once, while sitting through screenwriter Mitch Glazer's adaptation of Great Expectations, Cranky found himself thinking "where is this going?" For what takes up close to two hours of screen time is very pretty to look at as directed by Alfonso Cuarón but, when push comes to shove, a number of music video type scenes and a lot of unfulfilled promise.
There's very little of the original story left here, save the bare bones frame on which Dickens hung a masterpiece, and that could have been a good thing. Shakespeare has been adapted, battered, enhanced up the wazoo and at minimum has been interesting to watch. That's not the case here.
Somewhere in the South Florida Keys, a brutal killer (Robert De Niro) has escaped the law. God knows how he got anywhere with shackles and sores on his feet and no boat in sight is beyond me. He scares a little boy named Finn to death (ie. into helping him) and then vanishes for the length of the picture. If you know the story, you know what happens. If not, I'm not telling.
Also in the Keys is the "richest old lady in the state," a Ms. Dinsmoor (Anne Bancroft) who hires young Finn as a companion for her niece, Estella. Dinsmoor had been left at the altar and the remains of her wedding celebration still litter the grounds of her estate as she's gone quite cuckoo. Ten years later the hormones are raging, Finn's room is wallpapered with portraits of Estella and the pair have morphed into Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow. Their romance, or lack thereof, stutters like a car jerking along on fumes until Estella is packed off for school in Switzerland. Finn puts down his paintbox and takes up fishing and that would be the end of it until a mystery lawyer with a full purse shows up to finance a New York show of Finn's paintings.
This is where the music videos kick in. Estella and Finn are reunited in New York. Music plays. They move. Music pauses. They pause. There's a lot of rain. Finn runs through it. A lot.
It probably would help if you remembered the pieces and subplots of the original story but a) Cranky doesn't make those comparisons and b) short of the decaying wedding (cake, in the book) Cranky doesn't remember 'em. What he sat through was close to two hours of scenes stuttering like the car I wrote about above.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Great Expectations, he would have paid . . .
Hank Azaria, as Estella's fiance, is wasted in a role which could have been comic or pathetic. Azaria wasn't given the slightest clue. Yes, Gwyneth looks terrific but if you expect to see her naked, and you guys out there in Crankyland know who you are, she's quite out of focus. Enjoy the poster instead.
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