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Time Out says
While remaining largely faithful to the narrative thrust of Dickens' novel, Cuarón's version is hugely different from the David Lean classic, displaying all the wit, vitality and unpretentious assurance the Mexican brought to his delightful A Little Princess. It kicks off with orphan Finn (Hawke) fatefully making the acquaintance of an escaped con (De Niro), crazy old Nora Dinsmoor (Bancroft), and her beautiful niece Estella (Paltrow) in '70s Florida; before fast-forwarding to '80s New York where, as a promising artist, Finn continues to pursue his childhood beloved, now engaged to rich, snobby Walter (Azaria). The transposition to modern America works very well. Since we're advised from the start that we're about to see the story not as it happened, but as it's remembered by the older, wiser Finn, both the magical, natural paradise of the Everglades and the success-oriented New York art world beautifully evoke the twin poles of hopeful innocence and harsh experience. Cuarón plays up this fabulous romance, never departing from Finn's obsessive view of the bewilderingly changeable Estella, and underlining the cruel ironies of a life transformed yet tainted by love. Stylish, sexy, involving, and great fun.