216 of 218 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Persuasion: Less is More
I have watched this dramatisation of 'Persuasion' over and over again. It is beautifully acted with superb performances from Ciaran Hinds and Amanda Root. The whole things is very understated and subtle but the body language is electric. The later BBC adaption of 'Pride and Prejudice' is more obviously romantic with sexy leads etc but 'Persuasion' is actually far more...
Published on 20 Aug 2004
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Falling at the last hurdle.
`Persuasion' is the last, and arguably the most difficult, of Jane Austen's novels, and I am afraid that this adaptation just fails to capture the necessary subtlety required to do it justice. Admittedly this is a formidable task, as Anne seldom shares her emotions with other characters. As readers we can be made aware of her thoughts and feelings, but this is much more...
Published on 18 Nov 2010 by S. J. Fisher
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful movie, smart and romantic,
To my way of thinking there have been two truly great adaptations of Jane Austin novels. There have been many very good ones, and I've enjoyed most of the ones I've seen. The two that stay in my mind, however, are the BBC production of Pride and Prejudice with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, and this one, also from the BBC. They have in common clever and romantic plot lines, first-class production values, uniformly well cast actors who look the period, the skilled translation of Austin's words into the mouths of the characters, and two outstanding female leads. Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet and Amanda Root, who plays Anne Elliot here, are not conventionally beautiful women, but they are skilled actresses who can show emotion with their eyes and carry meaning with a glance. They glow with intelligence and common sense.
Anne Elliot (Root) is the daughter of a foolish, self-involved baronet (Corin Redgrave) who thinks more of society and people's places in it, especially his, than of anything else. Since Anne's mother died, he has squandered his wealth maintaining his view of what his position should be. Anne's sister is just as bad. Eight years earlier a relatively poor naval officer, Frederick Wentworth (Ciaran Hinds) had proposed to Anne, but on the advice of Lady Russell, a friend she trusted, she declined. Lady Russell had pointed out that the match was simply unsuitable. "He had no fortune, no connections," she tells Anne again. "It was entirely prudent of you to reject him." Now it's eight years later. Anne is 27 and has almost resigned herself to a life of spinsterhood and duty to her family. But by chance (and chance plays a part in Austin's novels), she meets Wentworth again. He is now Captain Wentworth and has made his fortune and his reputation in the Napoleonic wars. Her father, however, can see no point in the Navy. "I strongly object to the Navy," he says. "It brings people of obscure birth into undue distinction and it cuts up a man's youth and vigor most horribly!"
Persuasion is the story of how these two people, who have been seen as imperfect by many and who see each other as perfect, manage tentatively through the stilted conventions of the day, one to find the courage to ask again and the other to say "Yes" this time. Hinds brings authority to the part, but also a shyness. We catch him glancing at Anne and at first are unsure if he longs for her or resents her. Root makes a terrific heroine. She may even look a little plain, but she is intelligent, she cares for her relatives and her friends. She regrets the decision she made eight years ago, but doesn't know really what she can do within the limits of her world. And finally it comes down to the two of them needing to persuade themselves and each other to step out of convention and simply say to each other what they feel.
"Society" and one's place in society was all important. Calculation and artifice -- and money -- were far more important than ability or sincerity. Austin skewers with gentleness the pretensions of these self-involved people and their attitudes. She also creates a heroine who is humorous and shrewd. At one point, Anne Elliot is discussing the differences in the natures of men and women with Captain Harville, a friend of Wentworth's. "We do not forget you," says Anne, "as soon as you forget us. We cannot help ourselves. We live at home, quiet, confined, and our feelings prey upon us. You always have business of some sort or other to take you back into the world." "I won't allow it to be any more man's nature than women's to be inconstant or to forget those they love or have loved," Harville replies. "I believe the reverse. I believe... Let me just observe that all histories are against you, all stories, prose, and verse. I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which did not have something to say on women's fickleness." "But they were all written by men," Anne says with a smile.
This really is a wonderful movie.
47 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb Film Adapted From A Literary Masterpiece,
"Persuasion," the film, is a faithful adaptation of Jane Austen's final completed novel, and to my mind her finest book.
Roger Michell directed, with subtlety and brilliance, and brought Ms. Austen's masterpiece to life on the big screen. The pure magic of the romance alone captivates, along with the Regency English period history, brilliant characterizations, color, music and costumes.
The movie deals with the same social issues as the book, especially the British class system. Rigid social barriers existed - and everyone wanted to marry "up" to a higher station - and into wealth. This is also a very poignant and passionate tale of love, disappointment, loss and redemption. The point is clearly that one shouldn't ever be persuaded to abandon core values and beliefs, especially for ignoble goals. There are consequences, always.
Sir Walter Elliot, Lord of Kellynch Hall, (portrayed by a wonderfully dispicable Corin Redgrave), is an extravagant, self-aggrandizing snob, and a bit of a dandy to boot. He has been a widower for many years and spends money beyond his means to increase his social stature. His eldest daughter, (Phoebe Nicholls), upon whom he dotes, is as conceited and spoiled as he is. The youngest daughter, Anne (Amanda Root), is an intelligent, sensitive, and unassuming woman in her late twenties when the film begins. She had been quite pretty at one time, but life's disappointments have taken their toll and her looks are fading. She and her sister are both single. Anne had once been very much in love with a young, and as yet untried, navel officer. A woman who had been a close friend to Anne's mother, persuaded Anne to call off the engagement, convincing her that she could make a better match. After much consideration, Anne did not follow her heart, or her better judgement, and she and her young officer, Frederick Wentworth (Ciaran Hinds), separated. She has never again found the mutual love or companionship that she had with him.
The Elliot family is forced to financially retrench because of their extravagance. They lease Kellynch Hall to...of all people...Wentworth's sister and her husband. Elliot, his oldest daughter and her companion, move to a smaller lodging in Bath for the season, leaving Anne to pack up their belongings before joining them. She gets the Cinderella treatment throughout the film. Anne chooses this time to visit with her middle sister, an abominably spoiled, whiny hypochondriac, Mrs. Musgrove. She has made a good, but not brilliant match to a local squire. Charles Muskgrove, her husband, his parents, and their two younger, eligible daughters, Louisa and Henrietta, are delightful. There are wonderfully warm scenes of family and friends dining, dancing, hiking over the gorgeous countryside, and at the seashore, that bring the audience smack into early 19th century English life.
It is at the Muskgrove estate that Anne meets Frederick Wentworth again, after his absence of seven years. Wentworth is now a Captain in the Royal Navy and quite wealthy. When their eyes meet for the first time, you can absolutely feel Anne's longing and remorse. Intense. I cannot imagine a better actress to play Anne than Amanda Root. She slowly transforms herself from a sallow, aging spinster to a luminescent woman in love - and this is not just the makeup. Wentworth is aloof with Anne, although civil. The man was hurtfully rejected once before and it appears that he still feels the sting of her snub. Now Wentworth is on the marriage market and Louisa sets her cap for him. Accidents and various adventures ensue, from the resorts of Lyme and Bath to the Muskgrove estate, bringing Anne and Wentworth closer together. If Ms. Root is the perfect Anne, then Mr. Hinds is the best possible Wentworth. He is as large and virile as she is petite and feminine. He oozes sensuality...however, he portrays his character with great subtlety. The entire production is brilliantly cast and the acting is superb
I think this is Ms. Austen's most passionate piece. Some scholars say that she modeled Anne Elliot after herself.
This remarkable film, like the novel, and the issues it tackles, is just as germane today as it was when written. Each time I view it, it just gets better. And the romance...well, no one does romance better than Jane Austen.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delicate and subtle treatment triumphs,
This is the best of the movie-length adaptions of Jane Austen. The BBC tv Pride and Prejudice is superlative and remains the best, of course, but that is partly because it has the time it needs. Given what can be done in the 90-120 minute framework, this is excellent. Occasionally the jumps between scenes lose one just a little, but this is easily outweighed by the elegant subtlety of the direction and acting. The Sense and Sensibility version is too pleased with its own cleverness and focuses too much on the down side of Jane Austen's social satire; Emma does just the opposite. Persuasion is, as it were, the golden mean, and while all three movie versions are eminently watchable and enjoyable, if you can only watch one, and want to get a balanced sense of the 'real' Jane Austen, then Persuasion is the one.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The BBC makes the classics come alive,
I'm thoroughly impressed with the BBC's adaptation of Persuasion. It's true that a lot of the charm of the book itself does not shine through and on a couple of occasions I feel that the producers have taken rather an unnecessary poetic license. However, it's impossible to translate a book into drama word by word and I have rarely seen a dramatisation that has stuck so well with the original text. The cast lived up to every expectation, most of them quite the way I'd envisaged them while reading the book. The storyline as such... well, it's Jane Austen! It's a pure joy to watch!
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comfort food for nostalgics that is well cast and crafted,
Persuasion (1818) is often thought of as Jane Austen's most 'romantic' novel. Yet Austen's philosophy of love and romance might be quite different to what we understand as romantic today. She repeatedly counselled against a flighty over-indulgence of emotions (e.g. the characters of Marianne in Sense and Sensibility and Lydia in Pride and Prejudice), blessing her heroines with the prudence of rational love and controlled romanticism. Austen astutely recognised that women in the Georgian period, forbidden by custom and status to work beyond the home, were in danger of constructing and seeking to injudiciously act out wildly romantic fantasies. As Anne Elliott tells a naval officer in this brilliant adaptation, "We cannot help ourselves. We live at home, quiet, confined, and our feelings prey upon us. You always have business of some sort or other to take you back into the world".
Amanda Root and Ciarán Hinds excel as the leads and their on-screen chemistry is unmistakable as smouldering, unexpressed emotions threaten to penetrate the surface of their reserve. Root (who was originally sought by Emma Thompson to play the role of Marianne in Sense and Sensibility) has been frequently patronised on message boards - either consciously or unconciously - for her "plain" appearance, as if actresses must be classically beautiful before they can be considered good. I found that Root performed Anne with grace and intelligent sensitivity; she has the remarkable talent of letting her huge, searching eyes express what could often not be said in that era. Hinds makes for a Captain Wentworth as ruggedly handsome and virile as Firth in the role of Mr. Darcy; Wentworth is as morally principled as him and is a great deal tougher and more robust to boot. In his impassioned declaration to Anne - that "a man does not recover from such a devotion to such a woman, he ought not, he does not" - Hinds skillfully shows that Wentworth is thinking of his own strong, irrepressible feelings for Anne.
The leads are helped by an admirable supporting cast: Simon Russell Beale (as Charles Musgrove), Sophie Thompson (as his hypochondriac wife Mary) and Corin Redgrave (as the snobbish, spendthrift Sir Walter) do especially well, although I found that Mrs Croft (Fiona Shaw) and Lady Russell (played by Susan Fleetwood who died the year in which the film aired) sometimes look too similar to be clearly distinguished from each other.
Persuasion is quieter and more subdued than Austen's more famous novels. Appropriately the musical score is subtle and unobtrusive, complementing rather than overwhelming the dramatic moments of the narrative. Anne, too, makes for a less vivacious and lively heroine than, for example, the much-loved Lizzy Bennet. But this is not a fault: her development into self-conviction and in learning not only to trust her instincts and feelings, but more importantly to act upon them too, make her a paragon in a Georgian society which often sought to repress individual thought and feeling in women. She painfully experiences the pitfalls of letting oneself be guided or influenced by others. As Jane Austen counselled in an earlier novel, "We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be." (Mansfield Park, 1814).
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superior version, much more faithful to the novel.,
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I would simply like to thank all the reviewers, especially Meerkat, who guided me to watch this version after suffering the horror of the ITV adapation (Sally Hawkins/Rupert Penry-Jones)which I'd just watched.
ITV sucked out all the values and principles Austen worked so hard to examine in her novels, dumbed down the script and did a shallow, sugar-coated romance. A sign of the times I guess. Sadly.
This version, still one or two minor inaccuracies but forgiveable, was exquisite. Not such pretty faces but wonderful.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Austen adaptation ever?,
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Sensitive, subtle, funny and heart-wrenching. This film manages to be utterly true to the book and the time it was written in, while seeming more modern and "fresh" than the run of sexed-up costume dramas being churned out today. There're no Hollywood smiles, glossy make-up or unfeasibly glamorous stars - the superb cast look and act like real people. But just because it's realist doesn't make it drab. Anne's transformation is all the more dramatic for seeming to be genuinely lit from within. Gets better on every viewing!
34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Austen would be proud,
Persuasion is a fantastic piece of TV adaptation, no two ways about it, but it is much better if you know the story beforehand. Amanda Root is excellent as Anne, and really conveys a sense of resignation and acceptance of her situation to the piece. The only (very minor) quibble is that, being a sad literature geek, the cousin, Mr Elliot, is not made out to be eeevil enough - in the book, he is partially responsible to Mrs Smith's poverty as he wasted all her husband's money on fripperies. Very anal. That aside, the costumes, cast, dialogue and sets were true to form, making a thoroughly enjoyable and watchable programme. It's even funny in places - Anne's sister Mary is a total hypochondriac and hypocrite. 5 stars, no doubt about it.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly breathtaking!,
This review is from: Persuasion [VHS]  (VHS Tape)
I never saw either Amanda Root or Ciaran Hinds act before, - and must admit that THAT will have to be both regretted and changed. I am fan from now on! Persuasion is simply too beautiful to take in the first time one watches it. I got the video from a very good friend, and can't thank her enough, - have been watching it almost on a daily basis ever since (3 weeks this Tuesday), and still new details spring to life. VERY well done.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful adaptation,
I've enjoyed this version of Persuasion many times and the recent ITV one was not really a patch on this one (although the two leads in that one, Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones, were very good). The BBC adapation is just much classier, with very good cinematography and much more faithful to Austen's novel.
The acting is super and conveys very well the sense of loss which both main characters feel before they finally come to their senses! And the bits where Wentworth is writing his letter to Anne and she runs to find him are fab.
It's a shame the recent version wasted the two leads as I didn't think the screenplay was as tight or indeed faithful. The BBC one, for my money,is a better bet.
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Persuasion [VHS]  by Roger Michell (VHS Tape - 2000)