Wednesday, June 19, 2013

"Northanger Abbey" (2007)

Yes, I have finally seen this!  People have been recommending it to me for ever so long now, and so I took a couple of quiet evenings and watched it on YouTube.  With Italian subtitles.  Hmm.  Anyway, it was really fun!  (But why are Henry and Catherine so deadpan on the cover?)

As you may know, I only read Northanger Abbey for the first time last year.  With that one reading, it tied Pride and Prejudice for my second-favorite Austen novel.  (I still love Persuasion best.)  I found myself charmed by its mix of naivete, spunk, imagination, and cheek.  Henry Tilney is now my second-favorite Austen hero, supplanting Mr. Knightley (barely), and second only to dear Captain Wentworth and Mr. Darcy, who tie for first.  Not only that, but Catherine Morland is now my third-favorite Austen heroine, after Anne Elliot and Elizabeth Bennet.

And all of that is why I hesitated to watch the movie.  What if it just... failed?  What if it was too glossy or too gooey or just plain silly?  But, with Kara's assurances of its delightfulness, I took a deep breath and watched it.  And I'm so very glad I did!

Felicity Jones blended naivete, curiosity, and candor so sweetly.


JJ Feild seemed a little too slick and handsome at first, but by the end, I'd changed my mind and deemed him perfect.


The rest of the cast was suitable, though none of them really stood out to me.  I'd heard a lot about Carey Mulligan's portrayal of Isabella Thorpe, and she was vivacious and vacuous (and I felt quite sorry for her by the end), but she didn't especially wow me.  It was also a nice surprise to see Hugh O'Conor playing James Morland --  I love him in Chocolat (2000) and The Three Musketeers (1993).

Something else I'd heard a lot about were the additional fantasies Catherine has that are not spelled out in the book, ones that some people said ruined her as a character for them.  In fact, that was one of the reasons I was hesitant to see this -- what if it had turned dirty and horrid? Imagine my delight, then, when it turned out that all her actual fantasies were hilarious and not smuttified!  I laughed aloud as she imagined the drive to Bath beset with marauders.

But Catherine also has dreams in this movie that I can see could be considered objectionable.  These are dreams she has at night while asleep, not daydreams.  They mostly involve mixing novels with her new acquaintances in Bath, and do involve heaving bosoms, a woman chained up, and a waist-up shot from behind of Catherine rising nekkid from a bathtub while holding Henry Tilney's hand.  However, because these are dreams and not fantasies, I don't feel like they substantially change her character.  I know there are some people who say they can control their dreams, but I also know that from my own personal experience, that is really hard to do.


So anyway, I really liked the costumes in this.  I especially liked this dress:


And I liked how some of Catherine's dresses, and especially her blue coat, were used more than once.  So much more realistic than to think she'd have had a different dress for every day!

Is this movie family-friendly?  Not unless you use Clearplay or someone to hit fast-forward during Catherine's dreams.  Was I offended by them?  No.  But I wouldn't let my kids watch them, either.

My favorite part of this whole movie was probably the kiss at the end.  So eager and awkward and adorable.


18 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you finally decided to watch the movie, and that you did end up enjoying it. I liked it, myself. Wonderful blog you have! :)

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    1. I'm so glad too! I want to rewatch it soon, maybe find my own copy... I should check Amazon to see what the used prices are.

      Thanks for the compliment on my blog! Glad you're enjoying it :-)

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  2. I love this movie! I've seen it twice and I enjoyed it both times. I think everything about it was well done - the acting, the costumes, and so on. I thought it had an intriguing atmosphere, which I liked. I've never felt that I could control my dreams. I don't think that would be very easy to do, if it's possible at all. I have heard that a lot of our dreams stem from our subconscious.

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    1. Yes, the atmosphere was fascinating, wasn't it? A mix of realism and kind of a fairy tale feel.

      I have occasionally had dreams where I realized that I was dreaming and could kind of guide my own actions, but I can only remember 3 times when I could do that. My dreams seem to be a random mixture of books, movies, people I know, my own experiences, and stuff that originates I know not where.

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  3. You mean I was a small part of convincing you to watch it? Wow! That makes me doubly glad you liked it then. We're a good influence on each other! I've decided that this book simply has to be one of the next I pick up all thanks to you. :D

    I too thought Felicity Jones did a wonderful job of portraying the naive girl with a good heart, who falls in love unexpectedly. (I did feel she truly wasn't expecting to for all the dreams and fantasies she had.) I just love that Catherine is so nice. She refuses to think badly of anyone. It even takes a while to convince her that the Thorpe's are bad news!

    I also loved Henry Tilney! (Yes, I'm going to talk some more about him over here.) His playfulness was fun, his tenderness with his sister was so sweet, and his slow falling for Catherine was....sigh. That kiss was so full of awkwardness and adorableness. As you stated, it really felt like two people who had never kissed before. Therefore they were very unsure, yet determined to figure it out! ;)

    I also like all the moments that Catherine is shown reading and writing letters to her family and friends. Such pretty pictures they make! (i.e. the one of her you have above)

    Very nice review, Hamlette!

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    1. Yup, you're pretty much what pushed me over the edge. Glad I can return the favor by encouraging you to read the book!

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  4. You should definitely read "Udolpho" now, then! I'm really liking it! I can see why Jane Austen decided to write a parody of it. ;) It's a lot like Catherine's funny, innocent fantasies so far. Also, I had never really considered that the more objectionable scenes are dreams... it does help me to brush it off a little more easily, but I must still object to it being included in an Austen adaptation on principle. It annoys me that they try to sensualize Austen.

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    1. Just checked my library's website, and they have it! So I've popped it on my To Read list there, and will get it... eventually. Maybe I'll read it and then reread NA back-to-back.

      When I read all 6 of her major novels last year, I actually noticed a lot of very sexy stuff going on both in the text and subtext -- not quite on the level of Shakespeare's "thought you I meant country matters?" level, but still, a lot of talking about mistresses and liaisons and ruined women and some rather smoldery stuff here and there. A lot of it is alluded to or hinted at rather than directly mentioned, but it's very much there. So yeah, I would object at adding a level of sexuality that turned Austen into a trashy romance novel, but I didn't really feel that this took things that far. Just my opinion, of course.

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  5. I loved this one! My favourite Austen film second only to the BBC P&P.
    I've just started reading Northanger Abbey and have found it quite charming and close to the movie.
    Mr Tinley WAS perfect.
    Beth xxx

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    1. Aren't they both just delightful? Not serious or thought-provoking, but I think that makes the book perfect for summer vacation.

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  6. Thank you for this review! :) I've been wanting to watch this film for a while, but other nay-sayers put me off... I shall endeavour to find and enjoy this version! :)

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    1. Supposedly the region 1 US version that you can buy on Amazon doesn't even have the raciest scene. It's on my birthday list, so I can't confirm that, but that's what I've read.

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  7. I just won this movie in a giveaway last month and have been looking forward to viewing it, based on all the positive things I've heard about it. :) I would, however, like to watch it without the objectionable content. Would you mind terribly telling me which scenes to skip? I just really don't like seeing that kind of stuff on screen. :/

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    1. Mary, do you have the US version? If so, it doesn't include the dream where Catherine is in the bathtub. If not, when she's dreaming, and you see she's in a bathtub, fast-forward to the end of the dream. There IS still a small scene of Isabella Thorpe in bed and a man is putting his shirt on or some such re-dressing activity. It's clear they've had sex, but no activity is shown. Those are the only really objectionable spots. I'm visiting my folks and won't be home until late next week, so unfortunately I can't check my copy to give you the time where the Isabella scene is.

      Hope that helps!

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    2. Ack, so sorry for the late reply! I am 99% sure I own the US version. The person who ordered it for me got it from Amazon, not Amazon UK (which is the only place I know of that has the other version). Would you mind terribly giving me the times for the Isabella scene? I'm sorry for bothering you about this, but I'm just really paranoid about this kind of thing. If you can't, that's fine too. I'll just fast forward through that scene.

      Thanks so much! :D

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    3. Does it say "Masterpiece -- as Seen on Public Television" on the cover? Then it's the US version for sure.

      Okay, the Isabella scene is in chapter 5 (of my copy) and starts at an hour and nine minutes -- Catherine gets a letter from her, and we see what Isabella's talking about in little snippets while Catherine reads. If you begin to fast-forward right when Miss Tilney says, "I fear she is far out of her depths with mine," you can stop again at 1:10:18, when you see Isabella dressed, sitting on her bed and writing the letter. Hope that helps!

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    4. Yup, it does! I'm glad I know for certain now. :)

      Ahh, thank you so much! That's extremely helpful! I really appreciate your going out of your way to do this for me. :D

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    5. You're quite welcome :-) Glad I could help!

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