Great Expectations
Director: Alfonso Cuarón. Cast: Ethan Hawke, Gwyneth Paltrow, Anne Bancroft, Chris Cooper, Robert De Niro, Hank Azaria, Kim Dickens. Screenplay: Mitch Glazer (loosely based on the novel by Charles Dickens).

Hopefully, this wildly misguided (and misguidedly wild) transformation of Dickens's novel will be enough to annul the unholy marriage of Masterpiece Theatre and MTV's House of Style begun just over a year beforehand in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The talented Ethan Hawke struggles with a role that shows him to his worst advantage, reprising his now-familiar google-eyed adoration stuff, but without his usually-redeeming presence of mind. In fact, the whole film seems committed to reviving all that's sketchy about Dickens' novel (the sleight-of-hand coincidences, the forced romance) and jettisoning all the good stuff, like memorable characters or, in the case of Anne Bancroft's Miss Havisham, anything resembling a human being.) Aside from Chris Cooper's earnest portrayal of Pip's—I mean, Finn's—uncle and some snazzy costumes by Judianna Makovsky, the whole project defies even the most modest expectations and belly-flops right in the sudsy Miami surf. Grade: D

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