No doubt an interesting film to see back to back with David Lean's version. Cuarón's approach is very different, focusing more on the romance and mystery between Finn and Estella, the latter who has a much more prominent role here. While I liked it better than Lean's very rigid rendition, Cuarón's version isn't exactly perfect either.
Dickens' story might be at fault too, as it relies on big emotions and silly twists, making it harder to take the film (and the romance) serious. But it's also Cuarón's cheesy direction, as he tries to fully commit to the romantic/Gothic setting but ends up looking a little lost. It can be beautiful to look at, but it can turn garish in the blink of an eye.
The overstated performances of Hawke and Paltrow don't help, neither does the appearance of De Niro. Maybe if Cuarón had focused more on the relationship rather than the silly plot that drives the story of Finn and Estella, things might've turned out better. As it turned out though, it's a film with too many defects to work well.