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  • Writer's pictureKara Chatham

Persuasion (2022) | film


Writer: Ron Bass & Alice Victoria Winslow

Director: Carrie Cracknell

Director of Photography: Joe Anderson

Starring: Dakota Johnson, Cosmo Jarvis, Richard E. Grant, Henry Golding

Released: July 15, 2022

The latest take on Jane Austen's novel of the same title. Anne Elliot, the middle daughter of Sir Walter Elliot, does her best to help those around her. Specifically as her family enters a new phase in life.

Recommendation: I wouldn't. It feels like it's trying to blend Austen's heroines instead of allowing Anne Elliot be herself.

SPOILER WARNING: This review does contain spoilers. If you wish to remain spoiler free, then do not read past this point.

From the get-go we see Anne Elliot breaking the fourth wall in a very different way than how it's done in the 2007 adaptation. At the beginning it feels weird and not very Anne-like, but as the course of the film goes on it feels more like a window into the inner thoughts of Anne that we don't typically get to see. However, it is the moment those "inner thoughts" become spoken words to the other characters that the mild-mannered, humble, sweet Anne Elliot of Austen's novel no longer exists. The worst example of this is when she blurts out at dinner that Charles Musgrove wanted to marry her before he settled on marrying her sister. It just does not work. It seems like the goal was to turn Anne into more of an Elizabeth Bennet or Emma Woodhouse - which doesn't exactly jive with the heart of her story.

It didn't feel like we got enough time to see the connection between Lady Russel and Anne to fully understand how Lady Russel could persuade Anne out of accepting Wentworth. There is also the weird dynamic of it being known that Anne and Wentworth knew each other. Like it's neon sign levels of knowing this, instead of the subtle nature that is supposed to exist.

The obvious nature that they had Golding portray Mr. Elliot felt weird. Not wrong, just weird. He essentially spoiled his entire plot point, which made it harder to attempt to like him. There wasn't really a moment where you feel like he is trying to win Anne's affection. He's just there being fully transparent (a transparent jerk). The portrayal of Anne's family - Sir Walter, Elizabeth, & Mary - are spot on. They are as insufferable as they are meant to be. Lady Russell is...there. I don't get the sense that we see enough to truly understand how much influence she had over Anne to bring about the end of Anne and Wentworth eight years prior to where we meet Anne.

Some of the slips of modern language (ie. "Because he's a ten. And I never trust a ten." or "If you're a five in London, you're a ten in Bath.") snaps you out of the fact that they are still in the time period the novel is set in. If you're going to wander down the mordern path, attempt something like Clueless or The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Don't drop a piece of slang here and there in hopes you'll capture the next generation. Don't sacrifice the story for the hope that a new wave of fans will appear. There is more than enough period dramas to go around for anyone to know that that is not how you do this.

WHY do we see Mr. Elliot's wedding at the end of the film? Why do we not get to see how Wentworth saves Anne's childhood home for her? I didn't mind the book ends with the opening shots matching the end shots, but it wasn't as sweet and tender as the end of the novel or other adaptations.

The cinematography is beautiful. The colors are rich and the composition of the shots are great. They do support the story that is being told.

Overall... I think they tried too hard to make it cater to so many different things that they missed the mark on the story entirely.

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