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VINE VOICEon 20 April 2007
I agree with other reviewers on this version; it's not as faithful to the book (and therefore as 'good') as the Ciaran Hinds/Amanda Root version that was out a couple of years ago.
My gripes are:
1. The conversation Anne has with Captain Harville at the end of the book is the moment at which Captain Wentworth realises there is still hope. To have put that earlier in the play, addressed to Captain Benwick AND with no chance of Captain Wentworth overhearing was a pointless bit of interference with the storyline on the part of the writers and one that made no sense and made it harder for the characters to be reconciled at the end.
2. Some of the minor characters were, frankly, terrible. Mary was one of the worst - watch the Ciaran Hinds/Amanda Root version for the best way to play Mary. The actress in that was superb; this actress was very odd. Mr Elliot was wooden and that's about the best I can say for that actor - really terrible. He said his lines as though he had learned them by rote and had no idea what they meant.
3. What on earth did the script writers think they were doing having Anne rushing around Bath in pursuit of Captain Wentworth at the end and then brazenly telling him she accepted his proposal?!? Wrong, all wrong from the point of view of the storyline, characters and period of time the novel was set. No wonder he took so long to kiss her - he was probably repenting his decision to marry such a shameless hussy!
4. Then to crown it all; CAPTAIN WENTWORTH BOUGHT KELLYNCH HALL AT THE END!!!!!! What fairytale world was the writer living in??? He couldn't have done that as it was destined for the evil Mr Elliot and all tied up with legal entails...
Things that were right;
1. Rupert Penry-Jones. Phwoar!! What a wonderful Captain Wentworth he was ... it's worth watching just for him.
2. Antony Head. What a brilliant Sir Walter he was, although Colin Redgrave was equally excellent in the previous version.
3. The way it was structured did allow for a lot more 'explaining' than often happens; like when Captain Harville talls Captain Wentworth that he has entangled himself with Louisa and what to do to extricate himself. That worked well.
Basically, if you are in love with Rupert Penry-Jones (and who wouldn't be?!) buy this version and watch all the scenes with him in.
If you would rather have a version that is true to the novel, buy the one with Ciaran Hinds and Amanda Root in.
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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.
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VINE VOICEon 7 April 2007
Firstly let me say that it has just occurred to me to wonder whether I'm biased against this version of Persuasion in favour of the 1995 Amanda Root/Ciaran Hinds version simply because I saw that one first and have loved it ever since; similarly I much prefer the BBC's version of Pride and Prejudice to the more recent film, so maybe that which we see first, we love best? That aside, I tried to watch this production of Persuasion with an open mind, particularly looking forward to Rupert Penry-Jones' portrayal of the very attractive Captain Wentworth.

In that respect, I was not disappointed; you could not hope for a more handsome leading man; what a beauty. I could even forgive Anne Elliot's uncharacteristic chase scene as she ran full pelt around Bath looking for Captain Wentworth; if my lost love looked like Rupert Penry-Jones I think I'd be persuaded to leg it around Bath in hot pursuit. But even so, it is uncharacteristic of Anne's restrained and resigned character which was portrayed so much more accurately by Amanda Root in the 1995 BBC version. A previous reviewer said that they felt Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds too old but let's not forget that in Jane Austen's time 27 was almost heading towards middle age, and Anne would have been considered very much "on the shelf" by that age.

I thought that the casting of Sally Hawkins was very good but in a way there was not enough contrast between the pale, plain Anne at the beginning of the book and the radiant blooming Anne at the end; she was just reasonably pretty throughout.

The ITV have also fallen for the old chestnut of dumbing down the script when there is really no need and from that perspective the BBC have always been streets ahead in their scriptwriting skills. The end result is that this version of Persuasion is just not quite faithful enough to the spirit of the book and has just too many deviations and liberties for my liking.

All in all, a very ornamental version but the BBC 1995 version is far superior in the writing, casting - especially of the peripheral characters, and sticks much more faithfully to the book, so if you only buy one version, buy the BBC version - but if you are happy with the shortcomings of this production and would like to see Rupert Penry-Jones looking gorgeous (and who wouldn't?), then this story of love lost and found with suitably Austen-esque misunderstandings along the way will appeal.
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on 8 August 2010
I have both versions of this film and feel that if parts of each were taken then a really good film would be made.
I missed the entanglement of Captain Wentworth and Louisa Musgrove in the Ciarán Hinds version, which I felt was needed, especially if one wasn't familiar with the book, and Ann's understanding that they were to be married wasn't clear enough.

With the Rupert Penry-Jones version I felt the last part was not true enough to the story, ie her chasing him and meeting Harriet Smith in the street was wrong, as was him buying Kellynch Hall. I did feel a lot more emotion with this version and, even though Ann was good in that respect, I also felt that Captain Wentworth showed his feelings more too.
Charles was more believable in the Rupert Penry-Jones version as in the book he is a bit of a tease with his wife but that didn't show up at all in the Ciarán Hinds version.

If the Rupert Penry-Jones version was closer to the storyline then I'd say that would be ideal, although I would change some of the minor characters such as Mary, as I preferred the other version of her character, nor did I like Mr Elliot much either.

In both versions the children were too old so it didn't seem realistic that Charles had asked Ann to marry him after she rejected Captain Wentworth eight and a half years before, and then managed to woo and marry Mary and have two children who seemed to be about 7 years old. It does state in the book that one child was only two years of age when Captain Wentworth had to remove him from around Ann's neck.
Also the Musgroves were a plump couple so that didn't ring true for me, neither did the conversation between Captain Benwick and Ann which should have come much later and with Captain Harville.

I now find myself annoyed when watching the Rupert Penry-Jones version as it is so far from Jane Austin's novel but the saving grace is the delicious Captain Wentworth. It is worth watching just for him even if the storyline and some of the other characters are wrong.
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on 17 September 2009
I liked both this version and the BBC version with Amanda Root/Ciaran Hinds. I loved the book and the BBC version is much more faithful to it. However, this version may be better for those who have not read the book as it makes the main characters feelings more obvious and the story easier to follow but it does weaken the suspense. Rupert Penry-Jones plays his part very well (though he is far too handsome but I'm not complaining!) and Sally Hawkins is very good too. It's a pity about the ending - I don't know what the makers were thinking of. The long awaited kiss (about 20 seconds of Ann stretching her neck on tip toes) is especially cringeworthy.
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on 2 April 2007
I dreaded this new version of Persuasion. It is my favourite book in the whole world, and I felt that the Ciaran Hinds/Amanda Root version was so near to perfect that nothing could ever, ever come close. But this was really very good! My grumbles are mostly petty: Rupert P-J is gorgeous, but Frederick Wentworth isn't blond in my head, and there is no way R P-J has spent 8 years at sea! Elizabeth Elliot (age 29 in the book) looked about 45 and had a very bad wig, Mr William Elliot had funny eyes (again - he did in the Hinds/Root version, what are they trying to tell us?), kissing in a public street - why must they do this? - as you can see, only petty grumbles.

Apart from the way they rushed the ending. Both the Hinds/Root version and this one decided to include the two chapters that Jane Austen deleted from the original book - she deleted them for a reason, so why put the scene back in? Because the book was never properly finished, the ending and the whole William Elliot story are not really fleshed out in the book, so cramming it all, plus the cancelled scenes, into the very last few moments, made it feel very rushed and probably confusing to anyone who does not know the story. It was not needed - in the remaining time they could have done the letter and Anne/Harville conversation perfectly well.

Finally, what was that nonsense about Wentworth buying Kellynch for Anne? Where did that come from? As if Walter OR William Elliot would sell! Idiot scriptwriter.

But, pickiness aside, it was a great adaptation. I loved the way Anne looked at the camera - once I felt confident she wasn't going to speak to the camera (would have been awful). I liked the way her eyes would suddenly flick up and lock with mine. It made me jolt everytime and really brought home how alone she is and made me feel I was her only friend. Her sadness and isolation brought tears to my eyes more than once. Everyone was well cast (other than perhaps Elizabeth Elliot) and all acted superbly.

Most certainly a very close second to Hinds/Root.
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I thought this dramatization rather a disappointment. Some of the characters are marvellously well done - Sir Walter and his daughter Elizabeth for example. The Admiral and Mrs Croft were good too as was Frederick Wentworth but I didn't think Anne came over very well as she seemed to spend most of her time not knowing what to say to people which was definitely not how she was in the book where she was depicted as calm and quiet but capable and able to play a full part in social situations with her quiet confidence.

The whole incident of Louisa's fall at Lyme Regis was almost glossed over as though it only took a couple of days for her to recover. It was pivotal to the story but it was almost pushed into the background. Anne's sister, Mary, was portrayed as bordering on insanity in the way she behaved and yet in the book she was portrayed as someone who was a bit of a hypochondriac who could be distracted from her 'ailments' fairly easily by Anne. In the film Anne didn't really seem to know how to treat Mary at all and had minimal effect on her.

I know the book had to be abridged in order to fit it into the time slot available but I felt that the essence of the book had somehow been missed. The ending in the book - either of the alternatives - fitted the rest of the story but the ending n this drama didn't seem right at all to me. Some may enjoy it but I didn't and I shan't be watching it again.
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on 16 April 2011
I am a bit of a sucker for period dramas like this, and this one I enjoyed along with the others that went with the season of Austen adaptations. I had also been reading Jane Austen's novels, something I've been meaning to do for years.

I haven't seen any other adaptation of Persuasion but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Walter and and the oldest sister are played with just the right amount of idiocy, as is Mary, the third sister. She was a bit irritating but I went with it anyway. Anne and Frederick are also played well and you can believe their emotions are true. Yes, the ending is a bit modern and in Austen's time that would never have happened but I enjoyed it anyway, it was the first time both of the lovers had really expressed how they felt and I thought it was the right time to do something out of character. My only problem was when I finally finished the book I far preferred the more subtle way Wentworth revelas his feelings by writing the letter when he, Anne and other friends are all in a room together and subtly handing it to her as he leaves, then she leaves with Charles and meets him again outside so she can return the sentiment. It wouldn't have given the flashy ending but I think it would have been a more emotional one.

All in all an enjoyable adaptation for lovers of period drama, and Austen adaptations as the rest is fairly true to the book. Well worth watching.
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on 26 August 2013
This production is perfection, the costumes, setting, houses, carriages all recreate the period quite beautifully. The hero is hansome, suffers with real anguish, looks every inch the part. The heroine is portrayed with sensitivity and discretion. Their story is told with wit and intelligence and engages in all aspects. I can't fault it. Each and every film adaption of a great novel like this one, can only be an attempt to find new insight into a well loved text This is no easy task. This version is satisfying because it has a unity of production: all the different parts blend beautifully together. The photography, the music, the colors of the sets and costumes, the acting and the direction as a whole work well. There is no jarring note. Yes, Anne does run through Bath bumping into all the human obtstacles in the way of her marriage with Wentworth in a slightly contrived way, but this makes the point that Anne has grown up and moved out of the shadow of family and friends. She is independent and makes her own choice. This is such a poignant moment that it needs emphasis. The ending is moving too, as we see Anne and Frederick about to embark on their
married life together. In a world of corruption, avarice and snobbery, the two of them represent the dominion of the heart and the prevalence of good taste and sense. How can we not be happy for them?
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on 2 April 2007
This is the first of ITV's Jane Austen season that I've felt compelled to write something about. As a male I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this mainly because of the mesmerizing performance by the rather attractive Sally Hawkins which was wonderful. You simply cannot take your eyes off her. As the producer said in the Making Of featurette after she's going to be a big star and I heartily agree.

As for the story itself, well they took a fair few liberties with the story and much seems to have been cut but I guess they concentrated on what interested them and probably what they thought would interest the viewer most too, namely the romance. It's interesting comparing it with the 1995 BBC version of Persuasion which I thought the ending was more uh, realistic with Anne going to sea with Wentworth rather than him apparently buying Kellynch? Seems more in tune with the dismissal of traditional values of the gentry that runs through the book.

Mostly the 1995 version did things better I thought the Musgrave girls seemed hardly to be in it and there was very little of Harville and Benwicks role hardly mentioned. The excoriating social satire seems to have been dispensed with too. Tony Head as the absurd Sir Walter Elliot was mildly amusing but wheres the author's contempt of his vanity and ludicrous snobbery? What was extremely well done however were scenes such as the unspoken communication between Anne and Wentworth such as when she falls over he's on to her like a shot to help her up and he's equally perceptive in noticing her tiredness and helping her to a lift on board the carriage. His actions speak louder than his unspoken silence. In fact, they positively shout at us.

What really lifted this however was the performance of the lovely Ms Hawkins which had me crying like a baby by the end. Not that I'd ever admit a word of this to my male friends. Heavens, no. Now, wheres my tape of Top Gear and cans of beer?
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