Ethan Hawke plays a poor artist and Gwyneth Paltrow plays the apple of his eye. They meet as children and grow to adulthood and finally Paltrow comes over to Ethan's New York apartment, strips naked, and begins posing for him -- inspiring him to "greatness." One would think Paltrow's nude body on the silver screen would get the Crankster jumping for joy, but all I could think was "Girl, grab a snack." Paltrow is the kind of woman who can't visit Africa because the Ethiopians would throw food at her. Carbos, Gwyneth, carbos. Aside from Gwyneth's weight, it's not exactly clear what the dickens this movie is trying to accomplish. As Mrs. Dinsmoor, Estella's (Paltrow) aunt, Anne Bancroft looks like the galactic spokesperson for Marlboro. The woman hasn't aged, she's wilted.
When the young Finn (Hawke) comes across an escaped convict (DeNiro), it's obvious that director Alfonso Cuarn is going to choose style over substance. DeNiro just pops out of the water like some kind of wacko mermaid creating great expectations -- not for believable storytelling, but for lots of other dumb crap that makes no sense whatsoever.
The kids grow up. Estella disappears. Finn is visited by a lawyer who tells him he has a benefactor who wants him to go to New York and paint. Finn doesn't know who his benefactor is, but it's no surprise to us. There are only four main actors and one of them hasn't been on screen in awhile. If that weren't enough, the director makes sure that the characters laboriously explain all plot developments for the benefit of any audience members who might be brain dead. In the end, it's not clear what lessons anyone has learned other than confusion is bliss.
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