Archives for posts with tag: Jane Austen

Grade B+

This adaptation of the Jane Austen novel of the same title stars Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet as two sisters with different personalities who do their best to manage suitors and a much downgraded lifestyle than they were accustomed to.  Thompson is the eldest sister, reserved and growing an attachment to a man who cannot seem to express his intent toward her; and Winslet is the headstrong, passionate sister who rushes into a romantic relationship with a man who is as passionate and lively as she, but spurns the affections of an older, emotionally reserved man.  The secrets of the suitors will eventually be brought to light, and how the sisters handle these secrets will either destroy or uplift them.

My most memorable, movie moment of “Sense And Sensibility” is the scene when Thomson’s love interest tells her the full story of why he did the things he did, and how he wants to proceed in the immediate future.  I realize it’s a bland recounting, but it was done to not spoil what I consider the most dramatic part of the movie.

Everything about this movie is superb…except the running time.  At 136 minutes, parts of Austen’s novel had to be cut and/or trimmed down; and when you do that, it obviously damages the story.  For those who think this adaptation is amazing as it stands, I suggest you watch the near 3 hour BBC version which deserves an A+ rating.

— M

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Grade C +

The worst adaptation I’ve seen of a Jane Austen story.

Kate Beckinsale plays a widow who has a talent for manipulating people.  With no source of income, she is dependent on the good will of her friends and relatives to keep her and her young daughter from being homeless.  But instead of being humble and grateful, Beckinsale retains her pompous, superior attitude; and too often insults her benefactors openly or behind their backs.  Knowing that she can’t live on the good graces of her friends and relatives forever, Beckinsale spins her spider’s web and attempts to marry off her daughter to a rich man who is kind, dimwitted, and suffers from diarrhea of the mouth.  Adding to the drama is the daughter’s refusal to marry the man, despite Beckinsale’s warnings of what a woman must deal with if she is poor.

There are other complications, of course, and many, many characters in “Love And Friendship” — this is an Austen based movie, after all.  But the running time of 1 hour and 32 minutes should be a red flag to all fans of movies based on the writings of Austen.  With such little time given to tell the story, the fillmakers are forced to rush the story…and it shows, especially in the first few minutes when the audience is force-fed the names of a dozen characters and how they relate to each other.

My most memorable, movie moment of “Love & Friendship” is the scene when the rich, dimwitted man introduces himself to Beckinsale’s relations.  He moves like a hyper child, prattling on almost incoherently as his scatterbrain tries to focus on the conversation at hand, producing the funniest part of the movie.

Compared to the brilliant BBC productions of “Pride And Prejudice” and “Sense And Sensibility,” “Love & Friendship” feels half-baked.  It’s like eating a poorly cooked, 5 pound steak in 15 minutes.  The fine acting did save this movie from a much lower grade — I wanted to make that clear as the actors were not the ones at fault for how disappointing this movie turned out.

–M

Grade A+

Adapted from one of Jane Austen’s most popular novels, the BBC mini-series “Sense And Sensibility” is an Austen fan’s dream come true.  It is a romantic and often heart wrenching story of a family of four women (a mother and her three unmarried daughters) who have lost their financial security when the father dies and all his property, by law, is given to the son from a previous marriage.   The women are forced out of their home — palace is more like it —  and into a small cottage and learn to make do with what little they have left.

All is not bleak.  The eldest daughter — played by Hattie Morahan — has found love with a man who fits her perfectly…but for some mysterious reason does not convey to her his true feelings.  As for the middle daughter, who is played by Charity Wakefield, she is wooed by a kind, generous, loving, older man (played by David Morrissey) whom she does not desire.  What Wakefield seeks instead is the youth and charm of a man closer to her age, a man whose past may force his hand into ruining Wakefield.

My most memorable, movie moment of “Sense And Sensibility” is the scene when a heartbroken Wakefield is being comforted by Morahan.  In her grief, Wakefield yells at her sister that Morahan knows nothing of heartache.  Morahan, who at this point in the movie has suffered great emotional pain in silence, is completely stunned at her sister’s insensitive and ignorant remark.

At three hours long, this is a relatively short mini-series, and for most Austen fans, is probably too short.  For me, the three hours felt less than two, and this is owed to Austen’s great story, Andrew Davies’ great screenplay adaptation, John Alexander’s masterful direction, and the amazing acting of the lead actors, especially that of Morahan and Wakefield.

 

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