Friday, February 8, 2008
This is a relatively faithful rendition of Jane Austen’s book although I found on first viewing that I really didn’t understand what was going on. I enjoyed it, but felt I would have enjoyed it more if I knew the story. So, I went off and read Persuasion again (my last read of it was well over 20 years ago so my memory had dimmed substantially on the finer points of the story!) and then rewatched this movie. I found it much better second time around – whether it was the second viewing, or because I had the details of the whole story so knew its structure and what nuances the actors were trying to make.
The story, if you haven’t read it – and I would recommend you do, it is only a slim volume and easily digested! – is thus: Anne Elliot, second daughter of widower Sir Elliot, is 28 and single (not good in the 19th century). She had a short but intense entanglement at the tender age of 19 to a naval man, Frederick Wentworth, with a hoped for marriage in the offing, however was particularly persuaded by her friend, Lady Russell, that the match wasn’t suitable. She has thus had a “disappointment” which she has never really fully recovered from.
Her eldest sister, Elizabeth has always been the favourite of their father, but is still not married. Her younger sister, Mary is married to Charles Musgrove from a wealthy country family, and she lives in nearby Uppercross. Sir Elliot is vain and has not been frugal with his family’s wealth since his wife’s death and now finds himself in a somewhat restricted state with regard to money.
The recent war is over and many naval men have returned to shore. One Admiral Croft rents the Elliot home and Anne is somewhat mortified to recall that Mrs Croft is the sister of her past love, Frederick Wentworth. Frederick in the intervening 8 ½ years is now a Captain of some fortune.
Circumstances have come together for Anne and Frederick to meet again although there are obstacles, such as younger women, an accident and amorous attentions. When the action moves to Bath things start to happen rapidly and as you expect with an Austen story a reunion is eventually arrived at in true romantic fashion.
Ciaran Hinds is the masculine Frederick Wentworth. Amanda Roots is Anne but I found she continually looked either worried or startled for the first half of the movie. Some animation appeared in her character in the last half, although she still played the character in a very timid fashion and her face was difficult to read as far as what emotion she is supposed to be feeling. Sophie Thompson as Mary (Anne’s sister) played it delightfully, obviously enjoying the almost obnoxious role!
Other players include: Susan Fleetwood as Lady Russell; Corin Redgrave as Sir Elliot, Fiona Shaw as Mrs Croft, John Woodvine as Admiral Croft, Phoebe Nicholls as Elizabeth Elliot, Samuel West at Mr. Elliot, Simon Beale as Charles Musgrove, Victoria Hamilton as Henrietta Musgrove, Emma Roberts as Louisa Musgrove and Richard McCabe as Capt. Benwick.