Barouches of Fire

I guess I should finally finish writing this post, before it's Sunday again and time for more Jane Austenpalooza (I've never seen a film adaptation of Northanger Abbey so I'm looking forward to that one, but I think I'm going to have to tape it).

Things I liked about Persuasion (2007)

  • It was produced by Clerkenwell Films.

  • Rupert Penry-Jones is ridiculously handsome and smoldering.

  • I felt like Mary Elliot Musgrove was a more complex character in this adaptation than in Persuasion 1995. In 1995, her hypochondriac tendencies seemed more like annoying attention-seeking personal traits, whereas in this version it was more like mental illness. She also seemed to fit in better with Elizabeth and Sir Walter in this version. I didn't get the same impression in 1995 of Mary's social snobbery. I didn't realize that she was putting on airs and trying to elevate the Musgroves above their current status when she thought that Henrietta could do better than Henry/Charles Hayter¹. I thought she just didn't like Hayter for some reason. I didn't have quite the same impression of the inequality between the Elliots and Musgroves in 1995 as in 2007.

Things I didn't like about Persuasion (2007)

  • What, no naval uniforms? I have no idea what the norm would have been for a naval officer who was home from the sea, but it was weird seeing all the captains dressed like civilians.

  • Also, sailors should be old-looking and weather-beaten - just the complaint that Sir Walter makes about them. Not glorious and glowing like Rupert Penry-Jones.

  • Mary Musgrove was the only one of the supporting characters who I felt had any depth.

  • Mary Musgrove sort of stole every scene she was in and distracted me from the main story.

  • In 1995, the Charles-Anne backstory was sort of sad and touching. If they had gotten married, he probably would have been much happier than with Mary and would have had better-behaved children that he would have been closer to. Anne might even have come to love him, even if she never loved him like she did Wentworth. In 2007, Charles will not shut up about guns. Guns this, guns that. Kids are a nuisance, guns guns guns. In 1995, you know that Anne rejected Charles because she was in love with Wentworth. In 2007, you think 'Maybe she just rejected him because he was so damned annoying!' It's not anything that should really make Wentworth go "What? She rejected Charles Musgrove? It must be because she still loved me! That is the only explanation!"

  • I felt like Anthony Stewart Head was trying really hard not to play Sir Walter in the almost cartoonishly foppish way he was portrayed in 1995 but never came up with a different way to play him. "I'm not going to play him that way!" "Well okay, but how are you going to play him?" "Um... well, not that way!"

  • The Anne/Harville conversation about men and women and love was wasted in the middle of the film. It's an important conversation that should be overheard by Wentworth, leading him to believe that she still cares. DRAMA! Instead they just chatted around the dinner table and that was that.

  • The ending. What the hell was that? First of all, the running through the streets was not appropriate. But I will let that slide, because I can interpret it as the director's way of showing that she no longer cared for "keeping up appearances" in the way that her father and sisters did, and was going to do what was right for her, rather than what was right for the family image. But why did the movie have to end with Wentworth buying Kellynch (is that even possible, when it's entailed to Mr Elliot?) and them dancing on the lawn? It could have ended romantically. Instead it ended with... real estate. And waltzing.

All in all I liked it, but it's no replacement for the 1995 version. Your thoughts?

¹ He's Charles in the book, Henry in 1995 and Charles in 2007. I've never understood why he was named Charles, when there's already a Charles Musgrove in the same scenes. It's more confusing that way. Maybe Jane had her reasons. Maybe he was based on someone. Maybe people named Charles represented marrying down on the social scale. I wish she'd named him something else, though. Also, when the 1995 couple got married, they were Henry and Henrietta Hayter. I hope they had kids named Harry and Harriet.

srah - Friday, 18 January 2008 - 12:29 PM
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Comments (6)

gravatar Cherri - January 18, 2008 - 2:53 PM -

I had less of a problem with the purchase of Kellynch and the dancing on the lawn, and much more of a problem with that kiss. First, they were kissing in the middle of the street! Second, ugh. It was just gross and not romantic. They only focused on her side of the kiss and her mouth was sort of open the entire time, and the whole hesitation thing just went on for way too long. Bleh.

gravatar heather anne - January 18, 2008 - 3:39 PM -

I think, on the whole, people adapt Austen better than any other books-to-film. Maybe screenwriters and directors give her the reverence she deserves? As much as they are able? But I will say this about Sunday Night's Persuasion, that chick that played Anne was one scary-looking kisser. If she came at me like that, I'd back right away.

gravatar srah - January 18, 2008 - 3:47 PM -

Oh yeah, that kiss was bad too. I forgot about that. She was just kind of hanging there with her mouth open. It wasn't as bad as the kissing in the most recent adaptation of Jane Eyre, though. Those people were NOISY. SMACK SMACK SMACK!

gravatar b - January 19, 2008 - 10:17 PM -

i knew there was a reason i liked reading your blog. at last, another austen-ite out on the interweb to whom i can relate!

now, as much as i love all things austen, this version really left me flat--mostly for reasons you pointed out but also because it felt hurried like a reader's digest version. the director cut out too much important action/dialogue and didn't make it up in other ways.

it WAS lovely to see Rupert in something besides MI-5, where he smoulders way more than i can stand by the by.

and the running in the street...good GAWD! i fell over.

anthony was HIGH-larry-us. what an over the top performance. dang. i didn't know he had it in him to be such a ham.

personally, i love real estate endings. i'm weird that way!

can't wait for tomorrow's flick! ;)

gravatar Jess - January 19, 2008 - 10:51 PM -

I haven't seen either one, so I can't really weigh in, but there were definitely more negative comments than positive ones, and they sounded legit. So, there we go.

gravatar Jan 22nd moe - January 22, 2008 - 9:04 PM -

Last night's "Northanger Abbey" was good! (but not very complicated, come to think of it)

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