David Lean’s “Great Expectations” is the definition of charm and class without ever having a character I would consider “classy.” Lean’s gothic take on Charles Dickens novel envokes haunting imagery of broken people trying to find a place in the world. At times, the film is tragic and bleak, especially in the decaying mansion of Miss Havisham that acts more like a graveyard for the living, where Miss Havisham can spend her time stewing and spinning her spiderweb. While other times, the film is rather corny when it focuses on the simple life of Joe the blacksmith, dim-witted and loyal, as he never stops praising his wife and adopted son, Pip (John Mills). But in the middle of all this is Pip, boy who starts out with nothing, becomes a man who gets everything he ever wanted, and yet never loses sight of his joy for life. Pip’s journey is charming in how it plays with both of these vastly different worlds, turning what would have been another period piece into a timeless tale of what it really takes to be a gentleman.
Final Grade: A-