Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Top 10 Austen adaptations: #6

~No. 6 - Persuasion 2007~


For me, and I think for a lot of people, this was the highlight of ITV's "Jane Austen Season" in 2007. 


Sally Hawkins was wonderful as Anne Elliot. She has an incredibly expressive face, and she does a great job conveying Anne's thoughts and emotions to the audience. I can't really be too liberal in my praise of Sally's performance here - she's a brilliant actress, and she excels in this role. She even looks like Anne Elliot - she's about the right age, and her diminutive frame seems right, too. Anne, of all Austen's heroines, is not supposed to be tall or conventionally pretty!


I wasn't so sure about Rupert Penry Jones as Frederick Wentworth - not at first, anyway. He's too blond. . . too much of a pretty boy to be a naval captain, survivor of several skirmishes at sea during the Napoleonic Wars. But after a couple of re-watches, I've grown to appreciate his performance a little more. He and Sally Hawkins are well-matched - his warmth and amiability (to use an Austenian word) balance Hawkins' quiet, slightly melancholic Anne.


There were a couple of things about this adaptation that bothered me: firstly, Mary Musgrove! Did anyone else find her ridiculously irritating? Thankfully she wasn't in too many scenes, because she all but spoiled those in which she appeared. Secondly, the movie's length - only 90 minutes. Even just another half hour would have been sooo welcome. Thirdly - that scene at the end, with Anne's marathon through the streets of Bath. I didn't hate it as much as some people did, but I wish they'd thought of a better way to convey Anne's desperation! One more minor complaint - Wentworth giving Anne Kellynch Hall for wedding present??!


But it's the two leads that make this adaptation so wonderful. The supporting cast may have been mostly forgettable, but Sally Hawkins and RPJ were brilliant together. 


There's something powerful, and sometimes heartwrenching about this adaptation. Some viewers "get it", others don't. I happen to be one of those who loved it. :-) This is one of the very few Austen adaptations I have seen that left me sobbing at the end. It's so beautiful. Flawed, but achingly beautiful just the same.


Maggie said...

I, too, enjoyed this adaptation. I thought it very sweet and refreshing, compared to some adaptations I've seen. This story line is truly one of my favourites from Austen.

The only thing I didn't like, apart from some of the casting and filming, was when Anne kept looking into the camera...a little awkward for me.

Great review!

the W. family said...

I totally agree with your review of this film. What more can I say!

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...My first thoughts after this one first aired on PBS were that it was kind of a boring and unimaginative adaptation, but I think it needs to be seen again very soon so I can re-evaluate! :) I think I'm probably one of those who didn't 'get' it, as you said, so it's interesting to read your thoughts on it. But I've never really liked any of the Persuasion adaptations--just loved the book. Anyway, these are fun Austen posts! I'm still trying to guess what you're #1 Austen film is!


Livi said...

Yeah this one is cool. No one else in my family particularly liked it though. =)

Miss Jen said...

Indeed~ another delightful
post... I am enjoying this
series~ dear!

I totally agree with you
about Mary Musgrove... *heavy sigh*

And... yes this is one of
my FAVORITE Jane Austen adaptations
too... I have been left crying from this movie (and don't do that often ;) What did you think about Anne's father? Isn't he difficult to watch... a man full of pride, pretension and a selfish disdain
for the feelings of others. *sigh*

Keep these posts coming~ :)
they are fabulous!

Love in Christ~ Miss Jen

The Editrix said...

Maggie - thanks for your comment! I think it was interesting decision, having all those shots of Anne looking at the camera. I think it worked quite well myself, though I can understand why others may find it a bit grating.

Obsessive Janeite - glad you're enjoying the series! Persuasion is my favourite Jane Austen, and I have to agree with you - none of the versions I've seen do it justice. I think it's possibly one of the hardest Austen novels to adapt for the screen.

Miss Jen - I'm so glad you're enjoying these posts! And I have to agree with you about Sir Walter Elliot.

Charity said...

Unfortunately, I always find all adaptations of "Persuasion" rather dull. For some reason, I haven't really connected with any of them.

However, this one has Rupert Penry Jones in it, so I feel obligated to watch it now and again. =)

The Editrix said...

LOL! Have you read the book?

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Anonymous said...

First off I found your blog by accident and I've come to find it quite interesting. I really like it a great deal. As for the Persuasion movies I can't help but like them all in their own unique ways. The newest one had great chemistry between the leads in my opinion. Every little touch, every expressive look made my heart beat faster. You said that at first the new Captain Wentworth was too blond and too much of a pretty boy. I didn't find his hair coloring bothersome really. Now if he was Mr. Darcy and a blond I think I would have an issue with this. I don't know if pretty boy is the right word for Wentworth. I mean it says that he is even more handsome now that he was eight years ago and I find this Wentworth to be quite handsome. Also, I know the house at the end might look like Kellynch Hall, but it really isn't. You'll notice it if you look at it again. Anyway, I just love Persuasion and I think I like it even more than Pride and Prejudice. I know how blasfemish of me to say such a thing. :)