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Masterpiece? Really?

January 15, 2008

I know quite a few of you were planning on watching Persuasion, as presented by Masterpiece Theatre on Sunday night.  I TiVoed it, and ended up watching it last night.  I have decidedly mixed feelings about it.

Captain WentworthOn the one hand, Captain Wentworth was just adorable.  I think he looked quite young to be playing the part, but he was definitely attractive!  On the other hand, Anne seemed completely lacking of any Austen-esque features.  I really enjoyed the book, and Anne in the book is so quietly competent, whereas in the movie she felt just this side of a nervous wreck.  While I thought it did help to convey the urgency of the period in her life, I didn’t sympathise with movie-Anne at all, so I wasn’t really too concerned about how her life turned out (fortunately, I was ever so concerned about Captain Wentworth!).  I thought her younger sister, Mary, was played in a way that went beyond annoying-invalid into the realms of creepiness.  What was with her hunching over all the time?!

Oh, and can we talk about the camera work?  I thought it was trying to be way too artsy for a Jane Austen film, and Captain Wentworth, v. 2oftentimes the jiggling made me downright naseous.  The chaos of it reminded me a bit of that second Bourne movie, and it seemed out of place in a drama of manners in Napoleonic Britain. However, to give the director credit, I did enjoy all the wide shots of Britain; I felt like I was in the scenery at times.

All in all, I was less than pleased.  Fortunately, there’s another film adaptation that I absolutely love. So, for anyone who was less-than-impressed with last night’s offering, definitely try this one out instead! Wentworth is played by a much older, more dashing actor (not that I didn’t enjoy the more puppy-dog take on him that Masterpiece offered), and Anne feels much closer in spirit to the book. Also, there’s so fancy camera work to detract from the story. Now, of course, I think I’ll have to go read the book again!

20 Comments leave one →
  1. verbivore permalink
    January 16, 2008 3:58 am

    Now I will have to try and find this version to see what I think as well. I liked the book and Austen movies can be so much fun!

  2. January 16, 2008 5:51 am

    You put your finger on what was bothering me about the Masterpiece Theater version. My mother-in-law seemed to like the MT version better, so I was wondering if it was just me (and I’m glad to know it’s not). Now I can’t wait until Sunday to watch Northanger Abbey! :)

  3. January 16, 2008 7:21 am

    I saw this a few months ago and wasn’t thrilled with it. I agree that Captain Wentworth looks too young and I thought the scene at the end with all the running was ridiculous – as was the kiss on the sidewalk. The older Amanda Root version is very, very good.

  4. January 16, 2008 8:17 am

    I actually sort of liked it, though I do agree with you about her sister Mary–she was a little over the top. Her mannerisms were in the extreme and it was a little jarring (creepy is a good word really). I didn’t really notice the camera work–I’ll have to try and check it out from the library and watch it again. The Amanda Root version is really very, very good. But I did enjoy the lush scenery and the costumes were gorgeous. I’ll be curious to see Northanger Abbey next weekend.

  5. January 16, 2008 9:17 am

    I’ve not seen either one, but I’ll take your word for it and watch the 1995 version before the recent one. The one version I watch first is usually the one I like better…go fig.

  6. January 16, 2008 9:54 am

    I really like the Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds version. They both seem perfectly cast, and the production values feel very Austen-esque to me. I didn’t see the new one but it sounds too modern for my taste! :)

  7. January 16, 2008 10:53 am

    Darn I missed it. I was going to watch it too. Oh well at least I can be pretty sure they’ll show it again sometime.

  8. January 16, 2008 11:01 am

    I too prefer the 1995 version to the newer one. I never tire of watching it.

  9. January 16, 2008 2:19 pm

    I’ve never seen the new one, but Ciaran Hinds will always be Captain Wentworth to me (except when he’s Mr. Rochester.) And Amanda Root makes a pretty perfect Anne.

  10. January 16, 2008 4:19 pm

    Persuasion is the last Austen novel I’ve yet to read. I’ll keep a look out for when you start it so that I can keep in sync if I’m up for it at that point.

    I’ve been meaning to catch that older adaptation too just for Ciaran Hinds.

  11. January 16, 2008 6:27 pm

    Verbivore, Austen movies can be a ton of fun!

    Sarah, I’m glad to know I’m not the only one either. I want to see Northanger Abbey as well!

    Tara, agreed-I don’t think Austen would every let a herione make such a spectacle of herself.

    Danielle, I agree about the scenery and costumes. :)

    TY, definitely go get the 1995 version!

    Melanie, it was definitely too modern for me. :)

    Kim L, that’s true. You can just rent it, probably!

    Love, I agree-I really need to buy the older version. It’s so cute.

    Poodlerat, he played Mr. Rochester as well? Geez…it’s like he doesn’t belong in our time at all, hehe. I think he’d make a pretty good Hornblower as well. ;)

    Imani, Hinds has the wounded, proud, but still secretly in love, Naval officer thing down. I’m up for reading it whenever, so we can just sort that out!

  12. January 16, 2008 7:47 pm

    I was planning to see it but missed it after all. I am going to try my hardest to catch Northanger Abbey though. And, I’m going to see about finding the older copy of Persuasion to rent. Sounds like that one was really well done.

  13. January 16, 2008 8:47 pm

    You know, I have to agree. I thought Wentworth was darling, but perhaps not quite mature enough for the role.
    And somehow, there just seemed to be no chemistry between he and Anne, so they’re coming together in the end was definitely anti climactic.

    And the supporting characters were a bit overdone.

    Never mind, though, I will be wathcing Northanger Abbey this week :)
    Perhaps I’ll re-view the version of Persuasion you mentioned as well.

    Have you read the Claire Tomalin bio of Austen? I’ve ordered it, and am waiting impatiently for it to arrive.

  14. January 16, 2008 10:27 pm

    I wasn’t able to watch it but your view seems to be the consensus from what I’ve seen so far. Disappointing. I still plan to watch it but I’ll stick with the Root/Hinds version.

  15. January 17, 2008 2:10 pm

    Iliana, it was! And good luck catching Northanger Abbey. There are times when I’m glad to live with my parents, when it lets me use TiVo. ;)

    RavenousReader, you’re right-there wasn’t any chemistry at all! Wentworth was smoldering enough (sometimes, when he looked at the camera, my breath caught), but Anne seemed like the anti-chemistry. I haven’t read any bios of Austen…I’m almost afriad to, lol. I’ll look for your review, however! And I am planning on reading a book I found at B&N called Jane Austen: Her Life and Letters published by her great-nephews.

    Petunia, it has enough good points to make watching it worth it (especially since it’s only ninety minutes), even if it can’t stand up to the earlier version!

  16. January 19, 2008 6:52 pm

    Judging from all you’ve said, I’m glad I missed it!

  17. January 20, 2008 1:00 pm

    I’m sort of glad I didn’t watch it, it doesn’t seem to have turned out nearly as well as the Amanda Root version.

  18. January 20, 2008 7:25 pm

    Lesley, I know Danielle enjoyed it. :) But I certainly would’ve been ok with missing it.

    Alisia, I wish they had just aired the Amanda Root one! It’d be difficult to improve on anyway.

  19. January 22, 2010 2:01 pm

    Great review of the movie! I liked it (taking into account I’ve only seen that one version) but I agree that Anne was just…ek. Yeah. I had forgotten but you are right! Her sister is annoying as all hell as the invalid weirdo. Thanks for pointing me to your review!


  1. Persuasion (thoughts) « A Striped Armchair

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