Top critical review
3 people found this helpful
"This acting scheme gets worse and worse you see.. for I should be sorry to make the character ridiculous by bad acting"
on 5 March 2015
^ **Quotes from Edmund, chapters 15 & 16.**
According to the description, "Mansfield Park (is) one of Austen's most complex plots...."-- so much so that the writers apparently gave up in their efforts to retell this (now 200 year old) tale before they even started! (I can scarcely believe Rebecca Eaton *exec. producer* was involved with production!!)
I really hate to give anything associated with Jane Austen 1 star, being I'm an immense fan of her works, and many of the adaptations of them. But the adage to not judge a book by its movie certainly applies in this case! While I can't say it's Jane Austen's best book (it's personally my least favorite out of her 6 main novels), this adaptation does the book almost zero justice!
To the script writers, did they even read this book?! "Fanny" could easily pass for "Lydia" or "Kitty (the 2 youngest "Bennet" sisters) with her fits of giggles, carefree spirit, bluntness, and lack of depth of emotion (where was Fanny's nerves & tears?!). "Edmund" is entirely too flirtatious with "Fanny"; the viewer is left to wonder who he's more in love with (not so in the book)! There really isn't a standout performance in the whole lot (obviously because there was hardly any time to develop the characters, or the storyline).
The acting mostly goes from bad to worse (echoing Edmunds above estimation of the "Lovers Vows" play); which is a bit baffling because I've seen most of the actors in other roles, and thought them pretty good. Much of it is juvenile, and cringeworthy.
The beginning few minutes (the play rehearsal with Maria Bertram, and Mr. Crawford), and the last 8 minutes (with Fanny & Edmund)- I can imagine Jane reaching for her smelling salts at the sight!
The pace at which this production breezes through the 48 chapter book makes your head spin! Actually, being that 90% of the events are skipped, made up, mish-mashed, or extremely condensed-- I guess they can set their own pace.
I'm trying to think of some redeeming qualities of this production.. Other than some nice scenery, stately houses, and a few pretty costumes (minus the distracting low-cut bodices & heaving bosoms in almost every scene), there's not much depth here.
In conclusion, my advice would be to skip this Harlequin-esque imitation, and read the book!
The story of "Mansfield Park" has only been given 2 previous adaptation attempts. The BBC miniseries in the 80's, which I've only seen a few minutes of. Although rather lengthy (about 6 hrs.), and "stagey" like most BBC productions of that era, I have plans to definitely check it out. From what I hear though, it's a painstakingly accurate adaptation.
As for the '99 movie, that too isn't faithfully accurate (I'd say it's about 75%.. although missing a major character- William *Fanny's older brother*).
I decided to view it a 3'd time after reading the book. I finally understand what they did! In the beginning it says that it's also based on Jane's personal writings. What they don't tell you, is that they've essentially merged Jane Austen herself, with Fanny Price. While I can't say that I hate what they did (as far as entertainment value goes), it does give the viewer a different idea of how Miss Austen wrote her in the book. I guess because the book character is so introverted/introspective, and not as lively, or witty as JA's other heroines, the creators felt the need to do this? (And no, Fanny was not ever an aspiring writer, that was all Jane Austen there.)
The last quarter- excepting the final few minutes- are the most changed from the book, so for a better understanding you may want to read chapters 39-48.