Sent to live in an estate with her wealthy aunt and uncle, fish-out-of-water Fanny Price (Billie Piper) struggles to find her place in the dizzying world of high society’s glitz, glamour and sexual politics.
Directed by Iain B. MacDonald, this made-for-television adaptation of the Jane Austen classic also stars Jemma Redgrave, Maggie O’Neill, Blake Ritson, Douglas Hodge, James D’arcy, Rory Kinnear and Catherine Steadman.
Thoughts: 1) Edmund is a gothic vampire (or perhaps all Regency-period clergymen were too-thin, pale and dark?). 2) Jemma Redgrave as Lady Bertram is absolutely fantastic. She’s vague and absent-mindedly silly enough to fit the part perfectly, but steals the show in a well-timed moment of clarity at the end. 3) I know it’s part of the original story, but the Crawfords really are the most interesting characters. Too bad they’re not the protagonists!
Things I liked: the inclusion of Fanny’s brother was a smart move. You get family connection without changing the scene. Billie Piper is a very spirited Fanny, and she definitely moves about a lot, which I think made the character more likeable. Motion = good. It also showcased her youth, which is a big (and sometimes overlooked) theme in the story.
Things I didn’t like: they used child actors in the first five minutes of the film to depict the characters as their younger selves, and it wasn’t superb. Not horrible, but just not the same quality. In fact, my brother got up and walked away during those scenes…I also wasn’t a huge fan of an older Fanny chasing the girl in the library scene. It seemed forced and a bit strange. There were a couple transitions that were rough as well, but those I can attribute to the nature of the film, i.e. it was made for television.
In all, the film-watching experience was enjoyable and pain-free. I don’t think I’ll purchase a copy for myself, but I won’t hesitate to recommend it to Austen addicts, either. Rating: B.