Monday, January 14, 2008

Persuasion: A Review

The following is adapted from a jumbled message board post I wrote earlier today.

I watched the PBS production of Persuasion last night!
(Spoilers warned.)

Overall, the film felt rushed -- I was surprised it was so short! And since I just re-read the book for at least the fourth time, I'm probably a bit biased. It just didn't feel like Austen's story to me...the whole running through the streets of Bath thing. I actually laughed. I'm sorry. I'm horrible, I know! The shaky cam thing and the constant looking into the camera just didn't work for me, though I did like the fact that they are taking Austen films in a new art direction.

My favorite scenes were at Lyme (I've always wondered what that sort of seashore looks like) and walking from Uppercross. Also, I enjoyed getting to see Bath, especially in those last panoramic scenes, since I visited there in 2001. There were way too many tourists and cars in the way of all the beautiful buildings on my visit, so it was nice to see a representation of its golden-era splendor in the film.

I thought most of the actors/actresses were well chosen, especially the Crofts and Charles and Mary. I thought Frederick looked handsome, but Elizabeth looked too old and the Baronet Mr. Elliot too young. I thought they should've done something else with Anne's hair. The tight bun thing bothered me, especially when every other female actress had at least some poufy ringlets or something to soften their faces, even the older ones. She's 27, people, not a spinster yet! She did brighten up a bit by the end, which certainly helped.

The scene where Sarah the schoolfriend reveals the truth about Mr. Elliot was ill-placed and hurried. I mean, why was she out walking if she was an invalid? And why did she have to tell Anne precisely at that moment so immediately? The first part of the film seemed to drag and then we get the entire revelation about Mr. Eliot in 1 minute. If I hadn't read the book, I would've been lost.

Also, I missed the ending and I was confused because I walked back in to see them at Kellnych Hall. (Apparently, it was a wedding gift.) I just found that a strange deviation from the book, among others. Making Anne think Frederick was getting married to someone else is clearly stealing from other Austen novels and isn't even in this book. I suppose it did add some drama, though.

Overall, I'd say it was a fair film, just not my favorite Austen adaption. In short, I agree with Ann Barlow. I would recommend it to someone who is not familiar with the book or is an Austen newbie, as I think it is a short introduction (as preparation for the 6 hour Pride and Prejudice!). I'm looking forward to Northanger Abbey next week, as it is my second favorite of the six novels.


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