When I got married in March, we chose, as many couples do, to offer up readings meant to shed light on our feelings for one another. Mine was a brief but potent (to me) excerpt from Charles Dickens’s “Great Expectations.” It was the final line, in fact, which has a long story of its own (Dickens offered up three versions and settled on one that carries a delicious sort of ambiguity).
It’s my favorite book ever since I cheated and read the Cliff’s Notes in the 9th grade (of course I’ve read it in full since). I love what it says about connectivity, about love, about passion and obsession and about finding one’s way in the world. And like many, I always felt there was little to add to David Lean’s cinematic interpretation from 1946. Nevertheless, I must say I even enjoyed Alfonso Cuarón’s embattled modernization in 1998. (That film’s poster hangs framed on my kitchen wall in Los Angeles.)
So I was a little bit uneasy at the prospect of another interpretation, particularly a faithful one, as it appeared we were going to get out of Mike Newell. It’s a piece of work that could do with abstract representation, and really, to bring the story to a fresh audience, taking faithfully from the page could just miss the mark. Also, Newell just seemed an odd fit on the whole.
That said, the recently revealed international trailer gives me a little hope. There’s a style to the production that is rich and not bogged down in period boredom. As one might expect, Helena Bonham Carter seems to relish the role of Mrs. Havisham and “War Horse” star Jeremy Irvine really does seem like a proper Pip. The trailer is spiced up with the same excerpt from Danny Elfman’s “The Wolfman” score that played so well with early “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” trailers last year and it’s built quite like a thriller, so there’s some misdirection afoot. But I’m looking forward to it now.
Ralph Fiennes takes on the role of Magwitch while Holliday Grainger gets the coveted role of Estella. Both look exceptional.
But in advance of the Toronto Film Festival, where the film will see its world premiere (unless it pops up at Telluride first — fingers crossed), no studio has sprung for the title yet. I hope that’s not telling. I guess we’ll find out in a few weeks what the film has to offer, and whether its various elements — which have peppered our Contenders pages for months — will have a shot at the awards season.
Check out the international trailer below.