Fiction can be dangerous in times of war.
Andrew Adamson (The Chronicles of Narnia) directs Hugh Laurie in this drama set during the 1990s civil war in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, following one girl's fascination with the Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations. Adapted from the acclaimed 2006 novel by New Zealand author Lloyd Jones.... More
Shattered by the war over copper mining, Bougainville's teachers have fled. But the eccentric Mr. Watts (Laurie) has remained, the object of much curiosity and scorn who sweeps out the ruined schoolhouse and begins to read Dickens’ classic to the students. 14-year-old Matilda (Xzannjah), is transported into the Victorian world, finding inspiration in it while her everyday life is filled with harsh uncertainty as the realities of the civil war come to her village.Hide
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BY Rebecca Barry Hill Flicks Writer
Kiwi director Andrew Adamson has a gift for the fantastical, what with the huge success of the Shrek and Narnia films. With Mr. Pip, he shows sensitivity for epic, emotional drama too. Faithfully adapting the moving Lloyd Jones award-winning novel Mister Pip, this is a fairly earnest retelling of one girl’s life-changing encounter with a mysterious teacher, who reads Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations to her otherwise educationally barren classroom in late-80s, war-torn Bougainville.... More
One of the biggest challenges must have been how to tell the story of the man telling a story without him having to constantly tell the story. Adamson cleverly gets around this by illustrating Matilda’s thoughts with her own filtered ideal of the Dickensian world. Cue striking images of an island paradise transformed into a tropical version of London, Matilda and Pip in colourful finery. It’s exactly what you’d imagine her version of the story would be.
It’s also a pleasure to see Papua New Guinea on the big screen, and Adamson, who spent his teenaged years there, offers a loving ode to its beauty and culture, using the stunning setting, and all its delightful details – crabs, ants, shimmering water – to great effect. But ultimately the performances steal the show. Hugh Laurie as the children’s teacher Mr Watts is both hauntingly sad and inspiring, and the captivating Xzannjah as Matilda is a natural. My only criticism is that it could’ve benefited from a little more levity. However, Adamson has cut some of the bleaker scenes, delivering a film that still delivers a punch to the gut.Hide
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