Great Expectations (1998) Movie Review

By: Alex Phuong (Three Beers) –

A recent trend in Hollywood is taking classic stories, and updating them into modern times.  An example would be the Indian film Bride & Prejudice (2004), which modernizes Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  Alfanso Cuarón was bold enough to direct a modernization of Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations even though he had limited experience as a director at that time.  The result is an interesting take on the famous novel that is ultimately a wildly romantic love story.

A Toast

This film contains a lot of passion.  The romantic elements are seductive, and it features repeated scenes that show the development of the relationship between Finn and Estella as they transitioned from childhood to adulthood.  One of the most obvious examples is when Finn and Estella kiss at a fountain when they were both young, and then repeat that in New York City as adults.  The film also features a very beautiful score from two-time Oscar nominee Patrick Doyle, and a lot of sensuous kissing in the rain that rivals similar scenes from The Notebook (2004).  This film is definitely wildly romantic!

Beer Two

Since this is a modernized version of a classic novel, there are obviously numerous changes.  All of Dickens’s original characters were renamed except for Estella, and people unfamiliar with the original novel might not be able to identify this film as based on the famed Nineteenth Century text.  The changes are a bit interesting, but it might leave some readers confused if they were to read the novel after watching this film.

Beer Three

This film contains way too much profanity.  It is also a bit unfortunate that the child actors who played the young Finn and Estella had to either listen to the adult actors say bad words to them or say crude terms themselves.  Hopefully their work on this film did not completely destroy their innocence, even though it is tough for child actors to face the competition that exists in Hollywood.


Great Expectations is intentionally a modernization of Charles Dickens’s original novel.  That means that it is not supposed to follow the original text very closely.  The film is still somewhat meritorious, though, because it contains all of the elements of a modern Hollywood love story.  Dickens wrote the novel to provide social commentary, but this film simply provides a nice escape from reality with a very passionate love story.  This film might not be the best adaptation ever, but it can still entertain viewers who enjoy contemporary romance.

Great Expectations (1998) Drinking Game

Take a Drink: every time Finn does some kind of artwork (like sketching and drawing)

Take a Drink: every time there is water on-screen (including the fountains and the rainy weather)

Drink a Shot: every time the color green appears

About Alex Phuong

Alex Andy Phuong earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University-Los Angeles in 2015. His love affair with cinema began after discovering Turner Classic Movies in the summer of 2004. His favorite film director is Woody Allen, and his favorite movie star is Kate Winslet.

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