Thursday, February 14, 2013

"Persuasion" (1995)

Although Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel, I'd never seen a movie version of it.  So when I found a used copy on Amazon, I snapped it up.  My mom and I watched it over the last couple of nights, and I have to say that I have mixed feelings about it.

On the one hand, I think the screenwriter should be beaten about the head with hardcover copies of the novel.  Unless you are familiar with the story, you are going to be lost the first time you watch this.  Not optimal!  My mom has never read Persuasion (travesty, I know), and by the time the movie was half over, she was still unclear as to just what had transpired previously between Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth!  Not only that, but they really made it difficult to understand that there were two Wentworth brothers, mentioning it just once in almost an aside until the news of the Wentworth marriage arrived.  

But mostly, I reeeeeeeally wish they'd used some sort of voice-over narration for this movie, because Anne is a quiet character with a lot going on inside her head.  Her non-wordiness is part of why I love her, but without enough spoken dialog to convey her depths, poor Amanda Root was forced to do a lot of looking wide-eyed and thoughtful in order to get the viewers to see that she was anything other than boring.  And honestly, next to the vivacious, cheerful Misses Musgrove, she looked positively dull sometimes.


When she smiled, though, you could see why Wentworth had fallen in love with her eight years previously.  Then she sparkled and was quite charming.


However, I forgive the movie itself for those faults because of one very important factor:  Ciaran Hinds as Captain Frederick Wentworth.

Fore-and-aft for Captain Wentworth
(And also because they accurately had Admiral Croft wearing his hat athwartships, but the younger captains were wearing theirs fore-and-aft, a style change that happened right about then.  Kudos to the wardrobe department!)

Athwartships for Admiral Croft
But back to Ciaran Hinds (whose name I have, all these years, mispronounced as "char-an" when it's actually "kier-an."  I do apologize!)  He's one of those prolific, reliable actors who pop up all over the place -- I just spotted him in "The Cardboard Box" a couple weeks ago.  I mostly remembered him from The Sum of All Fears and Amazing Grace, but I know I've seen him in probably close to a dozen things.  However, I've never seen him really play a romantic lead before, and I went into this going, "Really?  Ciaran Hinds as Wentworth?  I can't see it."  Because my personal image of Wentworth is of someone tall, broad-shouldered, athletically trim, with brown hair parted on the side, and a lean and handsome face.  A very specific image, I do admit, but remember this is my favorite Austen novel.  Ciaran's taller than average, but also kind of funny looking.  Thinnish lips, large chin, high forehead.


But forget all that.  Wipe it from your mental harddrive this instant.  Because he is a perfect Wentworth.  Proud, but not haughty. Dignified, but with a sense of humor.  And capable of the most wounded expressions, with eyes that are so eloquent, they could have their own lines of dialog.


So, not only am I now a fan of this movie despite its defects, I'm thoroughly convinced of Ciaran Hinds' abilities as a romantic lead, and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of the version of Jane Eyre that has him be Mr. Rochester!

Old-Fashioned Charm
 
 The costumes seemed correct, most of them practical and not splendiferous.  Except the naval uniforms, those were quite lovely.  Everyone else had a lot of earth tones. 
 
 
And this movie is very family-friendly and faithful to the novel -- no added scenes to spice things up, etc.  Oh, Wentworth did say d--n a couple of times.  But that's all you need be concerned about.

18 comments:

  1. That candlelit picture of Ciarin Hinds? Yowza. That is a lovely and quite handsome picture.

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    1. I know! This movie has completely altered my views of him. He can look really delectable when he wants to. And I forgot to mention he has lovely, pointy eye teeth. :-9

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  2. Ah-hah! I just realized why so many of my comments over here disappear. It's because I type the comment, hit publish, and x out of the page. I was missing the fact that there was another screen that pops up, and so I was closing out before it actually saved the comment! It was at the bottom and not very visible. Now I know!

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    1. Um, the captcha thingie? I hate that I have to do that, but I got bombarded with junk comments a while ago and that's the only way I could stop them. Glad you know now!

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    2. Is that what it's called? What a weird name! I usually mistype whatever it shows me about 3 types before it takes. Sometimes I'm lucky the first time out, but usually I can't decipher what letters they're showing me. But yeah, I get bombarded with spam comment posts and it is very frustrating. What a waste of someone's time to create all that spam in the first place!! Like anybody every clicks on the links?? Grrrr. I hate spammers.

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    3. It stands for something, but I forget what. And yeah, they're horrid.

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  3. Very astute observations on this movie! I just watched it for the first time myself about a month ago, and I had mixed feelings as well ... for one thing, why do they all seem to whisper through the whole movie?? That was annoying ... and I'm totally with you on Anne's silence and the lack of explanation of any backstory. I was constantly having to pause the movie and explain things to my sister when we watched it.

    Buuut, I also agree that Ciaran Hinds made a great Wentworth. I had only seen him in Jane Eyre, and he completely destroyed my mental image of Rochester by making him petty, childish, and having facial hair; but he did redeem himself with this fabulous performance of Wentworth. :-)

    Thanks also for popping by my blog! Glad to find another fan of Alan Breck - there aren't too many of us! :-)

    Love in Christ,
    Vicki
    http://nomoreafraid.blogspot.com/

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    1. I didn't notice them whispering a lot, except in the scene where Anne overhears what Louisa and Wentworth are saying while nut-gathering. That was really hard to hear.

      I haven't seen his Jane Eyre yet, but this does not sound promising! A petty Rochester? Hmm. Have you ever seen the Timothy Dalton version? Delightful.

      As for being an Alan Breck fan... how can anyone NOT be one???

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  4. LOVE the story...but STILL wish they would make a new remake....

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    1. So who should star in a new version? Benedict Cumberbatch or Ioan Gruffudd for Capt. Wentworth? And who for Anne?

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  5. Have you ever watched the 2007 version? Absolute brilliance!

    It's only 90 minutes, so it's not a completely accurate version. However, it definitely captures the spirit. And it's Rupert Penry-Jones as Wentworth. So, yeah.

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    1. Millie -- how is it I never saw this comment before? Huh. Anyway, thanks for the tip -- I'll try to find that version too. I've only seen RP-J in one thing, but people keep raving about him, so I'll have to see what the fuss is about :-)

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  6. Great review and I could not agree with you more about Ciaran Hinds as Wentworth. He completely BLEW ME AWAY and I cannot believe I went all these years without seeing this movie! You are right - he is delectable!

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    1. Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed both my review and the movie.

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  7. You should definitely see the 2007 version, too! I think you'll really appreciate the journal scenes that let us peek into Anne's mind. I liked Rupert Penry-Jones much better than Ciaran Hinds, although they were both very good. I just can't stand the end of the 2007, I wish I could make a mash-up of these two movies to achieve my perfect adaptation of Persuasion. ;)

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    1. It's on my list! After reading Captain Wentworth's Diary by Amanda Grange recently, I'm definitely primed for seeing another version. Maybe later this month! I'll be sure to review it here when I see it so we can discuss.

      And I know what you mean about longing to be able to make mash-ups. I'd love to be able to pluck particular scenes from particular versions of Hamlet and string them all together to make the perfect movie version. It would be so disjointed and weird, but still way fun.

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  8. It's a long time after this thread began, but I have to ask the reviewer to look at this movie as a movie. It is so beautifully composed, starting with the opening scenes and continuing throughout. Yes, Amanda Root as Anne looks plain next to the Miss Musgroves, as she is meant to. She is older than they are and has had years living with her insensitive and shallow father and sister leading her to be somewhat depressed despite her bright mind and excellent nature. The delight is in watching her bloom as the movie goes along. I also recommend the charmingly filmed sequence at the end where Anne and Captain Wentworth, at last reunited as a couple, walk hand-in-hand through a parade of circus animals and performers on the streets of Bath, so enthralled in one another that they are oblivious to all the noise and activity.

    This movie is loaded with first-rate actors and, to my mind, is full of some of the best touches I have encountered in a movie (i.e., the wonderful scene where all the Musgroves are taking Anne aside so they can complain to her about each other).

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    1. Hello, Unknown! I'm sorry if you got the impression that I disliked this version of Persuasion. I don't -- I quite enjoy it. But if it's going to tell a story, it should tell it well, not confuse viewers who are not previously familiar with the story. That's my main quibble with it. The acting is very good, the cinematography is very lovely, but the writing falters.

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