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Reduces an emotional masterpiece to a common romance.
on 29 June 2008
This adaptation is not suitable for anyone who appreciates the novel, but it does work as a freestanding romance film. That said, certain elements are faithful to the novel; by far the best of these is Captain Wentworth, who is exactly as the book describes, and is truly the star if the film. Similarly good are Sir Walter, Elizabeth, the Musgroves (all of them) and the Crofts. Mary is humorous, if a little over-done, although her accent was at best strange. Alice Krige is competent, if over energetic and youthful, as Lady Russell. HOWEVER, the protagonist and scrript truly let this film down. Sally Hawkins is not Anne Elliot; she is lacking both grace and dignity, and her portrayal is utterly unmoving. This was surely made all the worse by the screenplay, which seemed to have been written without any contextual research. Although this is apparant throughout, the ending is really the best example of this on three counts; firstly, the way Anne runs (or rather, sprints) through Bath looking for Wentworth, in a manner entirely unbefitting a lady of Anne's class, cultivation or personality. Secondly, their kiss outside of Camden Place is equally as undecorous. Did nobody do their homework? I appreciate that Miss Hawkins' may not be aware of nineteenth century etiquette, but Jane Austen's work is reliant upon this context. It is the rigity of social expectation which drives Austen's work, and which creates the claustrophobia with which all of her protagonists struggle. One cannot help but feel that this anachronistic portrayal of 19th century England guts the meaning of what is arguably Austen's most sensitive novel. The final straw was Wentworth buying Anne Kellynch Hall as a 'wedding present'. I'd really love to know whether he bought it off Sir Walter, who could barely reconcile himself to the idea of letting it, or Mr Elliot, whose ultimate goal is the attainment of the consequence Kellynch would give him. Utterly non-sensical. All-in-all, the film does have strengths, but it is a weak adapation which conveniently ignores the facts of regency society. It reduces Austen's emotional masterpiece to a common romance film.