You could easily call Mr. Pip a film of two parts, the part you expect going into the film and the part you didn’t expect. The film, based on Lloyd Jones’ 2006 novel, Mister Pip, follows the life of eccentric white man, Thomas Watts (Hugh Laurie) who is living in a remote seaside settlement in Bougainville with his wife, who is a local, but has sadly lost her mind.
A rebellion rises and Bougainville is blockaded and cut off from the rest of the world. All other white people have left, leaving Watts to only white face on the island. Maybe because of this, the film doesn’t really say, Watts is asked to be the teacher, despite having no qualifications. Naturally he teaches them what he loves, Dickenson’s Great Expectations.
One student in particular, Matilda, is taken by the imagination of storytelling and escapes her harsh life into a fantasy based around the novel, in a period inspired by the book, but with a cast and colours inspired by her village. This only gets her in trouble with her mother, the head of the small church.
This story of an inspirational teacher however takes a drastic turn when the army arrives, but to tell you too much would be to spoil the experience. Let’s just say that the realities of war are forced upon this settlement in ways you don’t see coming.
This however doesn’t lessen the inspirational side of the story, and whilst it is harrowing in places, it is ultimately a story of hope and imagination.
Hugh Laurie is captivating as a sort of lost soul who finds life again through his unintended students and Xzannjah Matsi brings the role of Matilda to life with innocent youthful zest, that manages to play beautifully off Laurie’s character.
Director Andrew Adamson has created a rich world of imagination and inspiration without sugar coating the realities of life, in what is easily his best film to date.
Rating: M Violence.