Monday, April 02, 2007

Only half-persuaded by ITV's Persuasion

Sorry for the late posting of this review - I have been plagued by technical gremlins all day!

What a shame …. ITV’s Persuasion started out so promisingly, but in its ‘bold’ attempt to differentiate itself from its (superior) 1995 BBC predecessor, this version was rendered something of a hodge-podge.

What I find most concerning in Adaptation, is where a production is clearly ‘unmotivated’- in the sense that the over-arching directorial vision, is not pertaining to some key new reading of the source text, which might perhaps offer us a fresh, even challenging new perspective. But huge changes are wrought nevertheless – and for no clear, apparent purpose.

This was most definitely the case with ITV’s Persuasion, which did not seem to have any specific interpretative steer in the hands of screenwriter Simon Burke or director Adrian Shergold.

Indeed, the primary focus of this production – and the same can be said perhaps of the ITV’s Billie Piper-starring Mansfield Park which opened the ITV Jane Austen season – appeared to be the casting of the main female protagonist. Producer David Snodin has commented that recruiting Sally Hawkins to play Anne Elliot was the most important first step in this adaptation, and that everything else was then built around her. Securing Hawkins, who is one of our greatest up and coming actresses, was undeniably a coup. As was signing up Spooks star Rupert Penry-Jones as her love interest Captain Frederick Wentworth, the man Anne refused eight years previous, based on faulty advice, but she has loved him ever since, and regrets that fateful decision.

Certainly both actors have rewarded the Persuasion production team with fine, nuanced performances - although Hawkins's Anne, while capturing her maturity and sensitivity, is a little more passive than I expected. However, from an utterly shallow perspective, Penry-Jones makes for a very fetching Austen hero.

But other acting performances were far less assured. Amanda Hale as Anne’s irritating sister Mary Musgrove, was particularly strange, seeming to combine a very third-rate impression of Sophie Thompson, who made for a much better Mary in the BBC’s 1995 Persuasion, mixed with the odd physical quirks and mannerisms of Julie Walters’s Mrs Overall from Acorn Antiques. Meanwhile, Sam Hazeldine who played Mary’s long-suffering husband Charles, tried to play this for laughs, and failed abominably. (It’s wrong of course to keep comparing this adaptation with its BBC predecessor, but Simon Russell Beale, who is one of Britain’s most brilliant actors, made for such a wonderful Charles). The remaining Musgroves were passable. Certainly Louisa and Henrietta, Charles’s giggly, flighty sisters, (Jennifer Higham and Rosamund Stephen) were as giggly and flighty as could possibly be – but I did feel the actresses were each cast as the wrong sister.

The Elliot family were quite splendid in this production. Anthony Head was a perfectly pompous and vain Sir Walter Elliot, obsessed with appearances – especially his own. He was the standout scene-stealer in this Persuasion’s supporting cast. Julia Davis made for a delightfully snidey and arrogant Elizabeth Elliot, whose nose was pushed firmly out of joint by the attentions of her cousin, William Elliot, to ‘plain’ Anne. William Elliot was played here by Tobias Menzies, who is an actor I enjoy immensely. But I had a mixed response to his performance here. He was suitably smug and creepy, but also charismatic – very much so in fact. But at times I found his delivery a little one-paced and flat – although his proposal to Anne was one of the high points of the drama. Unfortunately, the adaptors fail to make much of the first time he encounters Anne, on the wind-swept Cobb at Lyme. This is a turning point in the novel, as Wentworth observes Elliot's admiration of Anne, and perceives for himself, her 'bloom', thus re-igniting his passionate love for her.

As for the remaining cast, performances which warrant mention are Peter Wight as a hearty Admiral Croft, Joseph Mawle as a pleasant Captain Harville and Alice Krige, (the Borg Queen no less), who put in a strong performance as Anne’s kindly but snobbish godmother Lady Russell.

Adrian Shergold’s direction was both one of the production’s strong points, and yet at times, a genuine weakness. I rather liked the fly-on-the-wall intensity of much of the hand-held camera-work. This contemporary ‘docu-drama’ style can be horribly over-used in some productions, but Shergold maintained just the right balance here, ensuring the audience had close proximity to the heroine, charting her feelings, her moods, her observations as someone flung to the margins for most of the action. At one point, we are even aware of Anne’s breathing, as she wanders forlornly through the shadowy corridors of Kellynch in the opening sequence.

However, Shergold also over-played this closeness. At times, the camera was positioned too close to Anne’s face for comfort. The romantic denouement is a classic example, when we wait an age for the lovers to finally kiss, and for a single tear to roll sadly down Anne’s cheek – indeed, we waited so long, that I unthinkingly began inspecting Sally Hawkins’s dentistry, as the camera continued to linger on her face, mouth a-gape.

Another of Shergold’s initially promising directorial tricks sours a little as the production progresses. To ensure the audience is better acquainted with Anne’s thoughts and feelings, Anne is seen to write her journal throughout, accompanied by voice-over, and as a parting shot, she then stares full-faced, straight into the camera. This Brechtian device, aiming to engage the audience, soon began to grate, expanding beyond her journal-writing to little sidelong glances, shared with us throughout the action. Notably, Anne’s voice-over whilst writing her journal suddenly ceased, however, once she was reconciled with Wentworth, signifying perhaps her own sense of closure, her recovery from the grief and confusion at her loss in love, which had dogged her throughout the narrative.

Shergold also includes a slightly cheesy moment. During a visit by the Musgroves and herself to the Crofts at Kellynch Hall, Anne Elliot is playing the piano, illuminated by myriad candles. Captain Wentworth is then shown to be staring at her, alone, in stern, reflective silence – and for some time too. She looks again and he has disappeared. Was this a vision or reality?

Even though Shergold appears to favour close, even claustrophobic camera-work, at other appropriate points in the narrative, Shergold occasionally deploys wider, establishment shots, and enjoys using the camera to peer over banisters, to hover above its characters, and even to encircle them, as when the finally reunited lovers dance together on the lawns of Kellynch Hall – which in this version has been awarded to Anne as a wedding present by Captain Wentworth – although it is quite remarkable that a naval captain had won THAT much ‘Spanish Gold’ in the course of his naval adventures. And what about the estate having been entailed? How come it was ever sold at all? Oh well …

Shergold often utilised a suitably chill, stony-grey palette of colours throughout the production, aided and abetted by the dank British weather which appears to have pervaded Persuasion, but fortunately to good effect. There is an Autumnal feel to Austen’s final novel, and the ambience of this production certainly highlighted this. Some interior shots, however, were a little too well lit, most especially at the Kellynch dinner party, hosted by the Crofts, which eschews the soft-toned candlelit effect most often utilised more faithfully in period dramas.

Locations were very well chosen in this production. It was nice to see Bath in all its splendours – most especially an early Bath scene when Anne speaks with her cousin William at the Pump Room. There is perhaps a little over-reliance on the camera panning the grand, sweeping curve of the Royal Crescent, as a convenient synecdoche for quintessential Bath. But overall, Bath is nicely rendered, and again, is washed through with drizzly British weather to suitably melancholic effect. Kellynch Hall (Neston Hall)and Uppercross (Sheldon Manor) are also nicely represented, but the crowning achievement in terms of location is actually the usage of Lyme and the Cobb, amidst thrashing sea-storms, which must have made for a hair-raising filming experience for the actors and crew, amidst high winds and dramatic crashing waves.

The real problems with this adaptation, as stated earlier, reside in the overall narrative structure, which deviates a little too sharply, but with no true purpose, away from Austen’s original text.

For example, having built up Anne as our primary standpoint character throughout, there is an unexpected and not entirely welcome switch just past the midway point, to a vague attempt at a ‘two-hander’ as we are suddenly made privy to Captain Wentworth’s thoughts and opinions. This is achieved with two scenes set in Lyme, once Anne is in Bath, where Wentworth converses with his friend Captain Harville about how he has inadvertently become ‘attached’ to Louisa Musgrove, in the eyes of others, due to his amicable attentions towards her. Indeed, a marriage is expected by all. A later scene, on the sea-drenched Cobb, has Wentworth bemoan to Harville, how he might have missed his chance with the woman he truly loves, who is ‘perfection’ itself. Harville, recognising his feelings for Anne, assures him that Louisa has now found love elsewhere – with Captain Benwick. He then suggests Wentworth head to Bath, and Anne.

In such a way, Captain Wentworth’s feelings for Anne are made abundantly clear at a much earlier stage than the novel, which only follows Anne’s consciousness, as we only learn of Wentworth’s story once he tells Anne his version of events. Arguably, such certainty reduces the suspense, and slightly cheapens our ‘closeness’ to Anne, which has been meticulously built up throughout, as we are suddenly in the vantage position of holding more information than our heroine. It is a puzzling and surprising position to be in at this juncture, and seemingly at odds with the overall trend of this adaptation, which is to offer us such close communion with our heroine.

Of course, by introducing Wentworth’s feelings about Anne with these invented scenes, the writer is ensuring we are not faced with excess exposition at the close of the film – but part of the ‘joy’ of Persuasion is our journeying throughout this love story with Anne, uncertain, questioning, sometimes hopeful, other times cast down. We are firmly on board her emotional rollercoaster. Like many of Austen’s love stories, there is also an element of ‘detective work’ involved too, as we try to ‘read’ the hero, second-guess his feelings, his intentions towards the heroine.

In 1995, Andrew Davies orchestrated in Pride and Prejudice a classic two-hander, ensuring abundant ‘extra’ Darcy, to ensure the audience warmed towards this seemingly cold, buttoned-up man – but he had the space and the time to integrate these fresh aspects of the narrative. A 90-minute tele-film does not have that luxury, and is more sharply-focused if, as in Austen’s novel, the narrative sticks closely to a single protagonist.

A further major change implemented in this production, is the utilisation of Austen’s original but discarded ending. Here, Captain Wentworth is assigned the onerous task by Admiral Croft, of asking Anne whether she is likely to marry William Elliot, as suggested by popular speculation, as if the newly-weds are to take possession of Kellynch Hall, then the Crofts need to seek out new lodgings. Anne’s answer, negating any attachment to Mr Elliot, leads to Wentworth’s proposal. In Austen’s original, this takes place at the Croft’s rented residence in Bath. Here, to ensure added suspense, the conversation takes place amidst the furore of the Musgroves arriving at the Elliot house on Camden Place. The lovers are thus interrupted before Wentworth can fully react to the news that Anne is free. He hastens off.

We then have a ludicrous, even farcical chain of events. Anne chases after him, but is first stopped by her supposedly invalid school-friend Mrs Smith with a rambling explanation of Mr William Elliot’s evil designs against her family. This revelation is swiftly cast aside, and never revisited, serving only the singular purpose of ‘obstructing’ Anne’s path to Wentworth. She then runs to Harville’s lodgings, has a conversation with Captain Harville, and is given a letter from Wentworth, in which he proposes. It is hard to see when he had the time to write this letter. Was it pre-written? Because surely he could not have belted home, written the letter and shot out again, in just the time it takes for Anne to run after him, even with a glancing distraction from Mrs Smith.

Anne then runs to the Pump Rooms, (by now her chasing about like a wild hare has become quite exhausting for the viewer, if only through mocking laughter), where she encounters the Crofts, then runs back home, where apparently Wentworth has since headed, begging the question why he ever left in the first place. This renders Anne’s exertions completely unnecessary, merely a spurious addition to the plot, and a desperate attempt to inject a level of uncertainty, of delayed gratification, to their romance. Of course Anne and Wentworth are united, as we always knew they would be, particularly since we are aware of his deep feelings for her, as much as we know the heartbreak she has suffered over her love for him.

Austen’s favoured ending was so much better, and it is unfathomable why this set of adaptors chose to ignore it. Perhaps the adaptors wanted a more direct personal confrontation between the lovers? Hence he is cold and suspicious but melted by her revelation that she does not love Mr Elliot. In the original, of course, the romantic climax is ushered in by Anne famously conversing with Captain Harville, about the ‘constancy’ of love, as experienced by men and women. It is a wonderful, intense passage, and plotwise, hugely important too, as Captain Wentworth overhears it all whilst writing a letter, and is deeply moved. He then writes a letter to Anne, which he ensures she reads, while he leaves the room, waiting for her response in the street.

In the ITV Persuasion, Captain Wentworth never gets to hear Anne’s speech, as it is moved backwards through time to a conversation she has instead, at Lyme, with Captain Benwick, whose fiancée had died the year before. It is awkwardly inserted, clearly because the speech itself is so iconic, so suggestive of Persuasion, and omitting it would be akin to cutting ‘To Be or Not To Be’ in Hamlet. Meanwhile Wentworth laughs merrily, completely oblivious to Anne’s heart-felt comments.

A further unproductive change between text and screen includes, (as in the BBC 1995 production), a scene set in Bath, when Anne Elliot is seen to literally chase Captain Wentworth when he quits a concert they are both attending, in disgust, once he has heard the rumour of Anne’s ‘closeness’ to her cousin William. I certainly don’t object to Anne’s pursuit of Wentworth on grounds of propriety – although no well brought-up woman would behave in this manner in Austen’s day – but adaptors miss a trick here, as the concert scene, as written by Austen, is packed full of nuance, suspense and misunderstanding.

And oddly, here is yet another ITV Austen adaptation which closes with the leading pair waltzing together. It’s a slightly silly and trite ending, for what should be one of literature’s greatest love stories. Indeed, to my mind, and I’m probably in a minority here, this is Austen’s most resonant and lovely romance of all.

I am not one for close textual fidelity in adaptation, but I do strongly believe that any wholesale changes or plot distortions must be in service to a wider interpretative concept, while preserving narrative cohesion, dynamism and momentum. This is why I can accept the huge changes wrought in Patricia Rozema’s much-reviled 1999 Mansfield Park, for example, as I can see that there is a directorial vision guiding this production, ensuring a rationale for these drastic alterations, even if, as has been subsequently shown, they have proved unpopular with much of the core Austen fanbase. This is brave direction, in my opinion, and successful or otherwise, is an important ingredient in text-to-screen adaptation, ensuring the genre maintains vitality and verve.

ITV’s Persuasion failed dramatically in this regard. This was an attractive film, but it lacked heart and lacked interpretative direction.

For certain, Hawkins and Penry-Jones cannot be faulted for their rendition of this love story. I enjoyed the subtle chemistry between them. I particularly liked the moment when Louisa suffers her ‘fall’ at the Cobb. Anne and Wentworth both work together in this instance; there is a moment of unspoken, lucid communication between them. Even better was their first unexpected meeting in Bath when they discuss Louisa’s impending marriage to Benwick, and he reveals his inferior opinion of Louisa. There is a delightful and touching closeness of minds between Anne and Wentworth in this scene, a natural intimacy, masked as it is by insecurity, uncertainty. It is acted beautifully and meaningfully.

The key problems with this production are most definitely not then due to the leading actors, but are instead inherent in the unnecessary alterations to the narrative structure, which weaken the adaptation’s dramatic effect. The William Elliot/Mrs Clay conspiracy is underplayed and under-explained, but this is partly because Austen herself seemed a little uncertain in this regard too. Even so, Mrs Smith’s sudden recuperation is mind-boggling, (or perhaps is meant as an astonishing proof of the efficacy of Bath’s waters). The 'villainous' subplot was thus used only as a temporary roadblock – and an extremely ineffective one at that – to Anne’s romantic resolution.

The ITV Jane Austen season has been a decidedly mixed bag. I had hoped that Persuasion would be my pick of the three (Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion), and even had high hopes of just this, during the first forty minutes or so of transmission. But the narrative felt rushed and uneven, and some of the acting amongst the supporting cast, was decidedly below par. It was stacks better, of course, than ITV’s dreadful Mansfield Park, but I would have to say that Davies’s Northanger Abbey, for all its many faults, was probably the best of a pretty mediocre bunch. ITV’s reputation for period drama has always been seen as middling, in comparison to the BBC’s super-confident, slick output, which has ensured the BBC brand is synonymous with quality in this genre. The BBC’s position as the foremost producer of heritage drama certainly remains undinted, if not heightened, as a result of ITV’s foray into this territory.

15 comments:

Annette said...

Very well said, I agree with almost all you say, especially the need for changes to be functionally justified - I think that is the difference between these three new films and a film like the Emma Thompson Sense and Sensibility, which is not at all faithful to the letter of the novel, but still to my mind the paragon of all Jane Austen adaptions.

AlisonP said...

I really enjoy reading your comments - you put into words a lot of what I think when watching a programme but don't really understand why I am thinking that way!

Yes, the second half of this adaptation was disappointing. It started going downhill when I almost missed the fact that William Elliot had turned up on the Cobb. And the Bath scenes seemed to be changed from the original for no apparently good reason. The addition of the scene where Wentworth effectively asks Anne on behalf of the Admiral whether she is going to be married was also used in the 1995 version as well (although there transposed to the Pump Room) and I didn't think it worked there either.

The White Hart scene was sorely missing (and really the whole point of the book).

I thought the last scene at Kellynch was better than the Bounty clip used in the 1995 version, although it did not make a great deal of sense. My knowledge of strict settlements from my law degree makes me think that it would be possible for the estate to be sold, because there is a difference between the legal title of the land and the underlying equitable interests of the beneficiaries. However, since my knowledge is about the position when the law was codified in 1925, things might have been different in the early 19th century. But, in any case, it would seem a bit odd that any sale would happen so soon after the wedding - I think the implications of this event (which, of course, are not in the original book) were not really thought through, like many of the changes in this adaptation.

Anonymous said...

A very thorough review. I enjoyed reading it immensley. The only point I'd disagree with is that I found Tobias Menzies delivery quite wonderful. Infact listening to his beautiful voice was one of the highlights of the production. I thought he really brought the character to life and oozed charisma. If anything I preferred his character to Wentworth who came across as a rather dull, lifeless individual.

Gallivant said...

Thanks for all the kind and interesting comments!

Annette -
Yes, an adaptation, IMO, has to also convey its own sense of 'self' (if that makes any sense), its own unique aura. The Ang Lee Sense and Sensibility is a classic example of that, isn't it? It is not faithful to the letter of the novel, as you say, but it has its very own touching charm and ambience, and also makes certain interpretative points that Thompson has made here, (issues pertaining to women's position in society). There is also the stronger role for Margaret (used in this regard too), which is a wonderfully inventive fleshing out of a lesser sung aspect of the novel. Plus, the acting is in a different class to most films or TV. Few adaptations have stood the test of time as this film. Its status is merely enhanced as the years roll by, and other adaptations come and go.

Gallivant said...

alisonp

You know what - I had completely forgotten that Wentworth in PP95 approaches Anne about Kellynch and her marriage prospects! And if I remember rightly, he runs into Lady Russell too, which makes matters worse of course. So thanks for reminding me.

I personally preferred the final scene of PP95 - Anne on board a ship, at her husband's side ... I imagined her a very capable seawoman!
As for the entail issue at Kellynch. I couldn't help think that the Elliot's money problems could have been so easily resolved before, if a simple sale was all that required. Having a property subject to entail, was to ensure the property did not leave the family line - which would be the case, of course, if it ended up in the hands of a daughter, who then wed. I also wondered just how much money a naval captain could accrue, to actually afford an entire estate .... but I'm not an expert in this area.

And contrary to what you say, I also think you put your thoughts into words extremely well! I enjoyed your comment immensely.

Gallivant said...

anonymous - I am a fan of Tobias Menzies, but I will stick to my guns on this! I felt, at moments, he could be a little more expressive (I'm thinking mainly of his conversation in the Pump Room) - however, his 'proposal' was magnificently done. He is a fine actor.

BUT ... I am horribly shallow you know. Rupert Penry-Jones was one of the highlights of the film for me, and no doubt, for all the wrong reasons!

Thanks for your comment!

shallowness said...

Very through review! I agree with a lot of it, and I think that the points that we disgareeon are largely preference. Youre right about the use of weather and lighting, I did find the use of the camera too distracting, but I think that may be because of the crux of the problem with this adaptation, which, as you say, is that there didn't seem to be a purpose. As with my initial response to the recent cinematic adaptation of 'Pride and Prejudice', I did think 'Too soon'. Unless if a writer has some vision, it's probably wise to leave a generation between adaptations, because what new thing is there to say?

Like you, I couldn't help but make comparisons with the supporting cast and mainly found them wanting. You make a very good point about handling Anne crossing paths with Elliot in Lyme. I kept wondering why there was no close-up, far the viewer to at least be able to recognise him in Bath.

The ending was very weak and you dissect why very well (Kellynch Hall!? Waltzing? Why?) It seemed full of cheap devices that rejected the what the book had to offer.

I hadn't really thought through the POV issue, and can understand the wish to avoid exposition,, but then, when you talk of the viewer knowing more than the heroine, I find that I come to Austen adaptations as one who has read and reread the books, and I assume that I and readers like me are the main audience, which is probably arrogant and producers can't afford that luxury. Anyway, it's why I fail to come to adaptations as a fresh viewer, but I very much appreciate the approach you've taken in your analysis.

I agree with your conclusion about the season and the channels' relationships with period drama. It's not just because of DVDs (or films) that my platonic version of a period drama/adaptation has no ad breaks.

Gallivant said...

Nice comments Shallowness.
I agree with almost everything you have said there. It's the lack of any interpretative 'vision', the lack of anything to say, which has riled me most about these ITV adaptations. In parts they have been akin to 'Austen' pastiche frankly.

Let's hope the BBC do a better job with Sense and Sensibility, although I could do with more original drama or at least adaptations of lesser known authors and works for a while ...

Oddly, the Persuasion from ITV seems to have 'faded' fastest out of the 3 films, in terms of media attention etc I had originally thought it would generate most buzz, but that has not been the case.

shaklet said...

I value your comments on the 'Austen series' from ITV and find them extremely well thought out, thorough and comprehensive. Let me preface my next comments by 'saying' that I very much admire Jane Austen's brilliant writing and believe it should be treated with the sensitivity and respect it deserves. I absolutely hated this adaptation of Persuasion and that Mr. Burke and Mr. Shergold should be barred from attempting any other works of Jane Austen's. I find it interesting that the opening credits of NA stated 'based on' the novel by Jane Austen while Persuasion stated 'by Jane Austen'. Unless it was a 'typo', it's a serious mistake.
I agree that Sally Hawkins is a fine actor, but believe she was seriously miscast. There is a delicacy to Anne Elliot, a quiet refinement and elegance that I don't think Ms. Hawkins captured. Perhaps it was in the severity of her hairstyle and her clothing. I know I'm being blunt (hopefully not too unkind to Ms. Hawkins who worked with what she had - script, direction, costumes etc. - to the best of her ability), but I just couldn't reconcile the Anne Elliot of Jane Austen's writing to the one we finally saw on screen. Captain Wentworth, of course, was very fine - handsome, gentleman-like and everything he should be - but I thought he had more chemistry with Capt. Harville than he did with Anne. What I mean is I could see the connection between those two, but struggled to find it with he and Anne.
As for the camera shots, it just made a negligent screenplay more atrocious. The shots were long when you needed to see the faces and too close when you needed some distance. I often felt like an intruder and it rendered the experience obscene.
I did like Mr. Head as Anne's father and the choice of Capt. Benwick for this adaptation far surpassed the BBC's. I'm really struggling to find something positive to say. As of now, the BBC version will have to be the one for me. Or maybe Mr. Davies could be persuaded...

Gallivant said...

Shaklet

Thanks for your fascinating comments. I sympathise with your difficulty in finding anything too positive to say about this production (a problem I found with all the ITV Austen adaptations frankly).

I was recently re-watching Ang Lee's Sense and Sensibility (1995) and was gobsmacked at the difference in quality, in all departments, between that production and these latest attempts. OK, I know it had a much larger budget, but the interpretative thinking, the genuine attempt at fine filmmaking was very much in evidence. Indeed, I am amazed at the falling standards in 'Austen' adaptation between the mid/late 1990s and today's feeble attempts. Which begs the question, why this is the case.

Anyway, thanks for your comments here and elsewhere on the blog! Sorry to have taken time to reply, but I have been on holiday.

eirenechin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I agree with everything you wrote in your review. I agree Persuasion is the most resonant and romantic of all of Austen's novels and this could have been a definitive version if only it were put in the right hands. If Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones were not cast and didn't have such a wonderful connection onscreen as well as chemistry and good acting, I doubt that I'd even watch this over and over like I have been, hoping it would be better by some fault of my imagination...

Or trying to combine the 1995 script and this current one together. The best of both...

Was disappointed. Why couldn't this have been done by the BBC?

Anonymous said...

i know this comment is very late in the game, but we can't even get the dvd in america yet, so I had to order it from the uk... I agree with everything you said... I thought that Ms. Hale's Mary was VERY hard to watch - it seemed to me that she just didn't know how to portray her, so she just decided to twitch around and see what happened... And, I know this is nitpicky, but the scene in which Louisa is walking with Wentworth while some of the others went to the Hayters house, she tells him of the fact that Charles wanted to marry Anne. When Wentworth asked when that was, Louisa said, "I don't know, but it was before he married Mary." Whaaaaat? Of course it was before he married Mary... It seems to me that directors and editors would have caught that and realized it didn't make much sense. It was almost like they just did the scene good-enough, and then moved on to the next without so much as a review. Ugh...

I do think Rupert Penry-Jones is hot, but I did have some problem with the fact that I just didn't see the chemistry with him and Sally Hawkins' Anne...

Anyways, great review - you have crystallized my thoughts exactly!

The Rush Blog said...

This was an excellent production. But the screenwriter made the big mistake of being faithful to Jane Austen's portrayal of William Elliot. In fact, this same blunder occurred in the 1995 version.

Instead of making William Elliot a rogue, scheming to prevent Sir Walter from marrying (something that he had no real control over), why not simply change his character and make him more of a serious rival for Frederick Wentworth? I wish that the screenwriters of all versions of "PERSUASION" had considered this.

manho valentine said...

I really enjoy reading your comments - you put into words a lot of what I think when watching a programme but don't really understand why I am thinking that way!
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