~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.