Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Movie Review: Persuasion

Movie Review

Persuasion (1995)

starring: Amanda Root and Ciarán Hinds


I enjoyed this movie a lot the first time I saw it and now I've been to Bath, I wanted to see it again. NineteenTeen's Young Bluestockings club gave me the perfect excuse. Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel and one of my favorite novels of all time. I have it memorized and I'm super picky so I watched with the intent of nitpicking. Below are my thoughts both good and bad.

This is a splendid adaptation of Jane Austen's final novel. It covers the basic story with much of Jane Austen's dialogue plus a superb ending that I wish was in the book. Perhaps Miss Austen died before she could write it?

Amanda Root is an incredible actress. Her facial expressions and body language eloquently demonstrate exactly what Anne is feeling at all times, since we lack a narrator. She starts off a little plain with a severe hair style and acting very timid. She's ignored by her father and eldest sister and put upon by her youngest sister to act as an unpaid companion and nursemaid. When the young people visit Lyme, Anne begins to bloom and Amanda Root becomes prettier. Anne's hairstyle changes when she returns to her family and she's more forceful about doing what she wants to do. 

c. 1995 Sony Pictures Entertainment

Ciarán Hinds is a great Captain Wentworth. He's strong and handsome and portrays Wentworth as a self-confident, forceful man which he is after being in the Navy for so long. He's used to commanding ships of men but he can flirt and charm the young ladies. I especially love his agitation and regret on the way home from Lyme. I also adore his final line of dialogue which isn't in the book but the extra scene really adds to the story. It demonstrates how Captain Wentworth will no longer be persuaded to leave behind the woman he loves and just how beastly Anne's family is to her. He has great subtle chemistry with Amanda Root so their romance blossoms slowly the way it's supposed to. They dance delicately around each other until the conclusion. This Captain Wentworth is one to swoon over.

The other actors are OK. I liked the Musgrove parents and Charles. They were just like I pictured them and very energetic and fun. The Musgrove girls are kind of blah. Neither of them has much personality. The acting is fine but they aren't given a lot to do. The actress who plays Louisa did a credible job playing the spoiled, headstrong young beauty. I also liked Admiral and Mrs. Croft. They have good chemistry with each other and with the other actors. They really seem like a comfortable married couple. I especially like how the character of Sophy was developed. She rocks and I want to be her! 

Other things I loved:
c. 1995 Sony Pictures Entertainment
  • All the little details that make the scenes and set the story firmly in 19th century England. The world in this movie is not the bright, clean, glittering world of Emma but it's not the dreary world of Joel Wright's Pride and Prejudice. It's somewhere in between. Mary's house is a bit shabby and falling apart, the Musgroves house is old fashioned but cozy and the Elliot's homes are cold and impersonal. The period details seem right to me. I felt like I was seeing an accurate portrayal of Regency England
  • The costumes are beautiful! Each character is dressed appropriately for their situation.
  • The music is very pretty.
  • It was actually filmed in Bath! I tried to photograph most of the filming locations but it was hard due to all the people in town and the rainy weather. I focused more on places mentioned in the books instead.
  • The kiss scene! Normally I yell "There's no kissing in Jane Austen!" But this kiss is so sweet and I love how it conveys how oblivious Anne and Frederick are to everything going on around them.

Nitpicking things:
  • There were some minor changes to the story - some dialogue was given to other characters.
  • The biggest change of all which I did not like was that in the book, Sir Walter and Elizabeth act as if they've never heard of Frederick Wentworth and Mary has never met him. In the movie they are well aware of who he is and what he means to Anne. They openly discuss Anne's "disappointment." I didn't like the change because in the book it really makes me feel for Anne that she's considered so insignificant that not only did her father chase away her true love, he doesn't seem to remember! That always gets me when I read the book. The addition of the final dialogue between Sir Walter and Frederick makes up for it though.
  • Mary's boys are supposed to be toddlers and thus the scene where the younger boy hangs on Anne's neck and Frederick pulls him off is eliminated. It's one of my favorite moments in the book.
  • The younger Musgrove brother was cut out so there's no reason for the Musgroves to be so eager to entertain Captain Wentworth. It was a minor part of the plot but the catalyst for bringing Captain Wentworth and Louisa together.
  • Henrietta's understanding with her cousin is glossed over.
  • Some of the names of the minor characters have been changed.
  • Frederick approaches Anne about the lease of Kellynch when he assumes she's to marry her cousin.
  • Mr. Elliot is broke and the whole subplot about his dastardly behavior towards Mrs. Smith is cut out. 
  • The Crofts show up too soon and Anne runs across the Pump Room to greet them. Not done. Not in polite society and I don't see Anne as a runner.
  • BIG nitpick and I mean nitpick: They mention Sir Walter's house is in Camden Crescent but you can see the Abbey right outside the window! Camden Crescent is about a 20 minute walk uphill from the Abbey not right next door. I do understand that they had to find suitable filming locations and needed to set the scene so I forgive the mistake but why mention Camden Crescent at all then? 

Overall though, this is an excellent movie well worth watching again and again!

Visit the website for Sir Walter Elliot's House (a B&B in Bath) to see the rooms where the movie was filmed.

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