Parents' Guide to

Great Expectations (1998)

By Grace Montgomery, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Visually stunning retelling has nudity, lots of swearing.

Movie R 1998 111 minutes
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Visually stunning and full of intense scenes and memorable characters, this retelling of the Dickens' classic has a lot of style but is lacking a lot of the substance of the source material. Ann Bancroft's Ms. Dinsmoor, with garish '60s flair, makes for a wonderfully sinister Miss Havisham, and Chris Cooper's Joe, now a struggling fisherman, is sweetly convincing as the affable uncle. But Finn and Estella feel like shells of characters, and it's hard to connect with them. The convict (Lustig in this version) also gets frustratingly little screen time. You want more of Finn's journey and Lustig's behind-the-scene's shaping of it and less pinning for Estella.

But this is a very watchable version. The scenes are wonderfully set -- you feel the stifling humidity of the coast, the exciting snap of New York City -- and the side characters wonderfully portrayed. Watch this version for a visual feast, but pick up a copy of the novel for a meatier dive into the morals and mores of Dickens.

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