I have never read Dickens' "Great Expectations," but I can tell you that this is one of the best movies I have ever seen. Let me clear something up right away. This is not a b-movie, a cheesy remake, or even a remake. It is my understanding that this movie is loosely based on the Dickens' book, but that it does follow the themes, just not the exact story. This is a great movie, it is a modern classic. The acting is excellent. Ethan Hawk is amazing, he really is a top notch actor. He's not just a young sexy leading man type who gets by on looks and a touch of acting (as I had previously thought since he looks like the typical Matt Dillion or a Lowe type). Gwyneth Paltrow is absolutely stunning and plays her role perfectly. De Niro has a nice, powerful role, and duh, he's awesome in this movie. Anne Bancroft was hauntingly superb in this movie, you'll see what i mean. Hank Azaria and Chris Cooper play great supporting roles. I think this movie was probably Chris Cooper's breakthrough role, and he was great.
The movie was breathtakingly shot. The cinematography was better then even the recent crouching tiger hidden dragon. The movie gives you a feeling of awe and mystery because of it's settings. It's a work of art. The writing...based on a classic Dickens novel..come on it is superb. No cheesy lines; yes there are heartfelt beautiful lines, but none cheesy or over-emotional or over the top dialogue. The writing and actors clicked perfectly. Need I say the story was both interesting and intriguing (based on Dickens' Great Expectations). It may be loosely based or not, but it was GREAT.
The directing pulled everything together and added some nice tricks to make this movie a Modern classic. And the way music was used to intensify this movie and when and where it was used was absolutely brilliant, and i suppose this is the director's job, WELL DONE.
The music was almost as important as the acting in this movie. The musical score for this movie is one of the best I have ever encountered. It makes this movie move you. And just as good are the music (songs) the movie uses, how and when they are used. This is one of the few movies that thrives on sound (music) to help create it's mood, power and emotion and it is done masterfully.
This movie is a masterpiece. Beautiful on the eyes, ears, heart, and mind. I feel sorry for you if you don't ever get to experience this movie, it is a MUST see.