First off, Persuasion is one of my favorite books of all time, and straight-up my favorite Austen. I own the 1995 film version with Amanda Root and Ciarán Hinds, and I tend to re-read the book about once a year. I’m not sure I can explain its appeal, but I’ve always been drawn to characters who have a rich inner life without being self-absorbed or withdrawn, and I think Austen does a wonderful job of satirizing society and the foibles of love and family expectation in this novel.
But on to the movie! Brief description: Anne (played by Sally Hawkins) and Captain Wentworth (played by Rupert Penry-Jones) were once engaged, but Anne was persuaded by a family friend to end the alliance, he took off, and we’re now at nine years later. Captain Wentworth enters the scene again, but is decidedly NOT looking at Anne for his matrimonial hopes. Chaos ensues.
Things I liked: Sir Walter Elliot (Anne’s father) is suitably arrogant and annoying. He’s great, stays true to the Austen character, and is very convincing as a vain, self-obsessed popinjay of an aristocrat. Mary (Anne’s younger sister) is a credible hypochondriac in this film version. And Rupert Penry-Jones as Captain Wentworth…**sigh**. He’s gorgeous, and he does a decent job of playing Wentworth to boot. I had a déjà vu moment when he appeared on screen…I thought, I KNOW this guy! What movie is he from? Courtesy of imdb.com, I found that he plays one of the love interests in Charlotte Gray, my favorite movie of all time. +10 points for that connection!
Things I didn’t like: While I mentioned above that Mary (Amanda Hale) is a believable hypochondriac, that’s the only thing I liked about her character and the actress’ performance. For most of the film Hale’s acting was so overdone that it was difficult to watch. I also thought that the early scenes in which Anne and Wentworth become re-acquainted were almost too fraught with emotion. And finally, this Anne was a bit of a crybaby. Granted, she was the one on screen 2/3 of the time, and you want a variety of emotion, but the little half-sobs and frowns of shock were slightly irritating.
All in all, I give it a C+. Okay, but not going on my movie shelf.