Thursday, July 4, 2013

Persuasion (2007)

Ah, another adaptation of a Jane Austen novel. Persuasion isn't as popular as some of Austen's other novels though. This one is more serious, dramatic, and (almost) despairing. Anne Elliot, at the ripe age of twenty-seven is resigned to being an old maid. Eight years ago she had the affections of a man, who she loved in return, but he was a nobody, and her high-ranking family would have nothing of it. She was persuaded to nullify the engagement, and Fredrick Wentworth left and joined the Navy. Now he is quite accidentally back in her life, a Captain, just as handsome as ever with a great fortune, and still not married. Will they get a second chance, or are they doomed to misunderstandings, and bitterness, secretly longing to rekindle the past?

The answer of course, is yes, to all. And that shouldn't be surprising even if you've never seen or read Persuasion before. It's a romantic drama -- what else could happen? It's not the destination after all, but the journey that we love, and with Jane Austen at the helm, you know the journey is going to be a good one.

Anne Elliot, heroine.

Persuasion is different from most of Austen's other novels in one major way; it's not very much of a comedy. It still has her wit, and there's still those moments to laugh at, but the wit is deeper -- mellower -- and you laugh very thankful that you're not in that annoying or otherwise unpleasant situation. This movie embraces all that drama boldly. The filming style is elegant and not overdone, with deep blue undertones matching and creating the mood. Simple shots let you take in the natural beauty of locations, and creative camera work and editing in the right spots embellish the story stylishly.

Interestingly, this is one period drama where I actually appreciate the men's costumes more than the women's. Not that the women's are bad at all, they are very nice and at times wonderfully ridiculous, but the men look really good and like real gentlemen in this film, and especially Captain Wentworth, though it doesn't hurt that he's actually very handsome anyway. And also acted very well by Rupert Penry-Jones -- he's a wonderful Austen hero.

Captain Frederick Wentworth, dashing hero.

They definitely got him right in the adapting process. And the rest of the cast looks good and right too. Sally Hawkins' appearance as Anne is good, she's past her bloom, but not ugly, but I don't enjoy the way she acts as much-- too timid and breathy, and it's slightly annoying at times. Anne's sisters Elizabeth and Mary are both also -- and much more often -- annoying, but they are supposed to be, so that's a praise. Anthony Head as her father, Sir Walter Elliot is brilliant. He's very good at being angry, but the way he preens in the mirror is what really gets me. Mr. Elliot is wonderfully pompous, though perhaps a bit too much, I begin to wonder how Anne could stand to be around him. As for the rest of the cast I have no particular praises or criticisms.

Anne's sisters, Mary and her husband Charles, and Elizabeth, and father Sir Walter.

The adaptation for the most part of the film is good, and follows the book well, but then near the end, as if by requirement, everything falls apart, for what seems to be no reason other than saving time. It's pretty disappointing, especially if you like the "letter scene" from the book as much as I do, and at only an hour-and-a-half, you'd think they could spare some time to make the end match the beginning and middle. But my biggest criticism has to be that kiss -- first of all, totally inappropriate for the era, but then good grief, it takes them what seems like hours to lean in, until I feel like yelling at them to just get it over with already. By then, I'm obviously kind of out of the romantic mood of the movie.

I guess it's a good thing, then, that it waits til then end to come undone; up until then I get to enjoy everything immensely, and that's exactly what I do. So much so, that I keep going back and watching it again, so I guess I must think that the good outweighs the bad. It is, after all, only about ten minutes of disappointing, to the hour and twenty of reserved, aching romance, thoughtful, real characters, and that wonderful, insightful, classic storytelling distinctive to Jane Austen's talented hand.

Twelve!

10 comments:

  1. Whoa! I... uh... what? Anthony Head as Sir Walter? I must find this immediately! I had no idea he was in it! Wonderful!

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    1. Yes, and he's great in it! You should definitely find it. :D

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    2. Well, fully a year later, I have finally watched this version! My full thoughts are here, but reading back over your review, I'm struck by how we're almost exactly opposite on both Anne and Wentworth. But we agree how good Anthony Head was! And the ending -- really, what were they thinking?

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    3. Haha, I saw your review and left a comment even before I saw this, and said basically the same thing! Anthony Head was probably the only perfect thing in this movie. :D My attitude towards Wentworth has dampened slightly since writing this though. I still think he's dashing, but he isn't a great Wentworth. I'm glad we agree on the end though. That was just awful. Hey, this version is 7 years old... maybe it's about time for a new version!

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  2. I agree about the camerawork. Stylistically and visually, I love this version of Persuasion. I didn't mind the ending, but I can see why you didn't like it that much.

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    1. Yeah, it's pretty impressive, especially compared to other old-fashioned tv movies. I'm glad you don't mind the ending. I wish could, but I loved the book's version so much that I just miss it.

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  3. That ending scene of Anne racing through the streets is totally weird but otherwise, this is the "best" version of Persuasion. The bad news is there is still room for improvement!

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    1. Yep, I totally agree. And worse news is that it'll likely be a really long time before anyone tries to make another better version!

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  4. Oh my, I REALLY don't think you're going to like my review of this miniseries :D

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