Christmas 2012 my wonderful husband got me a Kindle Fire for Christmas. He also signed me up for a trial of Amazon Prime and, when that was over, signed me up for another year. So it’s been nearly 1 ½ years that I’ve had Amazon Prime and almost never used the video feature. I’m not quite sure why I haven’t. I’m not 100% sure, but I think the first time I used it was to watch a TV show that hadn’t recorded on my DVR like it was supposed to and that was streaming free on Amazon. I was impressed, but for some reason didn’t use it again until this weekend.
I was browsing yoga videos and noticed on the home page that one of the highlighted movies was Pride and Prejudice. That got me thinking. I’ve seen a lot of movies based on Jane Austen novels, but not all of them. I decided to look up one of my favorite Austen books to see if it was made into a movie and, YAY! – it had been.
Thus, how I ended up spending Sunday morning curled up in my pajamas and a warm blanket watching the 1995 version of Persuasion on my Kindle. And a wonderful morning it was!
For those of you not familiar with Persuasion, here is the blurb from GoodReads:
Twenty-seven-year old Anne Elliot is Austen’s most adult heroine. Eight years before the story proper begins, she is happily betrothed to a naval officer, Frederick Wentworth, but she precipitously breaks off the engagement when persuaded by her friend Lady Russell that such a match is unworthy. The breakup produces in Anne a deep and long-lasting regret. When later Wentworth returns from sea a rich and successful captain, he finds Anne’s family on the brink of financial ruin and his own sister a tenant in Kellynch Hall, the Elliot estate. All the tension of the novel revolves around one question: Will Anne and Wentworth be reunited in their love?
I’m sure you can tell this is a typical Jane Austen story…and I love it!
The first thing I noticed about this film is that I didn’t really recognize any of the actors. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it seemed unusual. The next thing I noticed…the characters weren’t all gorgeous, and that’s a really good thing. If you’ve read any of Austen’s novels, you know that a majority of her characters are plain. You wouldn’t know that from the movie adaptations. There’s such an ingrained thought in Hollywood that only the “buddy” or “comic relief” characters can be anything but perfect looking. This was a refreshing change. (Although, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a Hollywood made movie.) Don’t get me wrong, the actors in this version are not ogres…they’re just not the polished perfection of most actors in Austen movies.
Amanda Root plays Anne Elliot in the most wonderfully understated way. In other words, the way Anne is meant to be played. Then we meet Captain Frederick Wentworth played brilliantly by Ciaran Hinds and the unrequited love is palpable. There are no overly dramatic sighs or close-ups, just the quiet longing that was one of the reasons I fell in love with the book. The audience (or reader) realizes these two should be together even if they think that ship has sailed. The director (Roger Michell, who goes on to direct another favorite of mine, Notting Hill, a few years later) finds a way to make us root for the pairing of Wentworth with Anne over Louisa without making Louisa become an annoying character. Often in these movies, the “other woman” comes across as so cloying and bitchy that you can’t help but wonder why the hero would ever think of her as a contender in any situation. In this adaptation of Persuasion you can’t help but like Louisa and hope for the best for her, even as you are rooting for Wentworth to choose Anne.
As understated as Louisa is, I stated “I want to punch her in the face” multiple times when it came to both of Anne’s sisters. Mary (Sophie Thompson) for her dismissal of Anne and anything else that doesn’t make her the center of attention and Elizabeth (Phoebe Nicholls) for her flat out bitchiness. This only means that these actresses did a splendid job…I loved hating them! A film cannot stand on only its leads or only its supporting cast. It can do a decent job as long as one of the two is outstanding. When both pieces of the puzzle are outstanding you get nothing short of a brilliant movie.
If you are a fan of Jane Austen, this movie is a MUST. I urge you to see it ASAP. You will not be sorry.
What is your favorite Jane Austen movie adaptation?