Wednesday, June 19, 2013
"Northanger Abbey" (2007) -- Initial Thoughts
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.