Time: 113 mins.
No one has every accused Ethan Hawke of having great charisma though he has given some good performances in the past but in this film he might as well be a walking corpse. I can't believe Uma Thurman married him and had his children. He must put all his passion into his real life cause it doesn't appear here. The film centers around him and his lust for Estella, played by Paltrow, and for painting, which he's supposed to be quite good at. The main problem is, he can't emote passion if his life depended on it. He's just too passive, cold and unemotional. He tries, he really does, but it just doesn't work. Paltrow is very mysterious and gorgeous in this film, but she plays nothing more than the object of Hawke's desire and that leaves her character quite flat. The only characters with personality are the ones played by De Niro and Bancroft. Unfortunately, they're not the people the film is about.
I generally like Paltrow and Hawke. They make choices that don't always work, but are ususally interesting enough to keep me involved. They obviously saw something in this film that I just didn't get. It makes me want to reread the novel to see what I missed. The story is quite simple: poor, talented boy (Finn) meets rich, hard-hearted girl (Estella). He falls for her the instant he sees her and tries to win her heart for the rest of his life even though she rips it out and stomps on it every chance she gets. Finn figures once he has fame and fortune Estella will be able to look beyond his poverty and see him for who he really is the man of her dreams. The problem with this plan is that she cares nothing for the things he's attaining to impress her. She's unable to be with him, because she's unable to be herself, to allow herself to be truly loved. She feels that she doesn't deserve it, so she marries a man completely wrong for her just to prove herself right, destroying both their lives.