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This review is from: Persuasion : Complete BBC Adaptation  [DVD] (DVD)
Though overshadowed at the time by its much more populist TV contemporary, Pride and Prejudice, this 1995 one-off BBC adaptation of Jane Austen's Persuasion has ably stood the test of time and is still an engrossing treat for romantics of all ages. It is, in fact, a perfectly realised and beautifully acted gem.
The tale unfolds around mousy Ann Elliot (Amanda Root), one of Jane Austen's most endearing heroines, as her quiet world is turned upside down by the sudden reappearance of the suitor she reluctantly rejected years before, dashing Navy captain Frederick Wentworth (Ciarán Hinds). Amid the stifling social conventions of Regency England, a tale of enduring passion, desperate hope and unrequited love is played out in a way that has never been bettered.
The performance of Amanda Root is a tour-de-force. Quite simply, she IS Ann Elliot, a shy, clever and able young woman whose spirit has slowly been battered into submission by her selfish family. And now the young penniless Navy officer she was persuaded to reject has returned a captain, and with a fortune in prize money to boot. Ann's silent agony is beautifully portrayed by Amanda Root and her awkward interactions with Wentworth are riveting and moving.
In fact, the performances throughout are top-notch, with Ciarán Hinds lending a suitably bluff no-nonsense dimension to his sea-dog character that complements his former love perfectly. But what are his feelings now? Corin Redgrave is a hoot as Ann's foppish buffoon of a father Sir Walter Elliot, and the obligatory Austen grotesques are present in the form of Ann's horrible sisters Elizabeth and Mary, played by Phoebe Nichols and Sophie Thompson respectively.
Much as the dialogue is authentic, so is the production as a whole, with every detail perfect. From the grand Regency interiors of Bath to the cosy squalor of seaside cottages, from dim evening candlelight to airy country lanes, this whole production takes us right back to Jane Austen's time and lands us there without a bump, a time when just a look or a touch conveyed so much.
So if you're looking for a truly authentic Jane Austen adaptation to enjoy then this is the one to choose. It's a mini-masterpiece of restrained passion in 103 minutes, an acting master-class and a thoroughly engrossing and moving delight that can be enjoyed several times over. This adaptation of Persuasion is Austen perfection and highly recommended.