Thursday, July 10, 2014

"Persuasion" (2007)

Rather like the 1995 adaptation, I have mixed feelings about this movie.  Some aspects I liked a great deal, and other things bugged me a lot.  Now, unlike the 1995 version, they do use some voiceover narration, and there was never any doubt about what had happened before the story starts here.  I was never confused about what was going on, who was who, etc.  The writing was clean and orderly, for the most part.  The ending did feel a bit rushed, with Mrs. Smith zipping in from nowhere to denounce the young Mr. Elliot.  And what was with all the running?  Did we really have to have a wild goose chase all over Bath just to prolong suspense for another 3 minutes?  That was rather silly.  And who takes 45 seconds to decide if they're going to kiss or not?  And I really could have done without that trippy-troppy, clippy-cloppy, glippy-gloppy piano that intruded on every emotional moment, not to mention the eerie violin sounds that sometimes hovered around Anne like she was about to be abducted by a creepy stalker or something.  And, while I'm listing things I disliked, I could have done without all that shaky-cam stuff too.


Now on to what I liked.  I very much enjoyed Sally Hawkins as Anne Elliot.  Really, I can't imagine any way she could have been better.  She was sweet, thoughtful, intelligent, and brightened from careworn to pretty in a very subtle and believable fashion over the course of the movie.


And it was such a delight to see Anthony Head as Mr. Elliot -- I had to fight down giggles to hear any dialog whenever he was around.  I kept wanting to say, "Oh, Giles, come off it already.  Stop being such a git."  Because gittish he was, to the extreme -- just what Mr. Elliot ought to be.


But Rupert Penry-Jones didn't convince me.  I somehow could never imagine him captaining a ship, and he seemed to lack the anger and bitterness I expect from Captain Wentworth.  He was more like a half-grown puppy who was sad because you wouldn't let him climb on the furniture.  And he seemed too young, I'm afraid.  Especially in all the scenes in Bath -- he looked younger than Anne.  And, well, Wentworth is my favorite Austen hero.  I'm picky.  He did wear those tall boots very nicely, though.  I would not be at all adverse to seeing him in another role.

I should mention two actors who made a couple of side characters very enjoyable.  Amanda Hale was an absolutely hilarious Mary Musgrove -- I was more amused than appalled by her, which is a switch.  Joseph Mawle was a splendid and memorable Captain Harville.  I wanted more scenes with him.  I could definitely imagine him commanding a fine ship.

And I didn't even recognize him, but I see from IMDB that Nicholas Farrell played Mr. Musgrove!  Must have been the whiskers that fooled me.  He's one of my favorite Horatios ever!  From the 1996 Hamlet, of course.

So.  If I could ditch Penry-Jones and pop Ciaran Hinds in instead, fire the composer, and rewrite the ending so it's more like the book, I would have my perfect movie version of Persuasion.  Instead, I have to say that this one is nice, but I'll stick with the book, thanks.  I wouldn't mind seeing it again sometime if a friend wanted to watch it or something, but I doubt I'll seek it out again on my own.

23 comments:

  1. I was pretty disappointed with this movie, but it's been several years since I watched it. The main thing I remember is laughing hysterically as Anne and Wentworth took 10 minutes going in for the kiss. Not the thing you want to be doing when Anne and Wentworth kiss (but at least I was amused).

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    1. Yeah, that was just awkward and silly. I can think of no good reason for it to be that way.

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  2. Oh my goodness, that first paragraph describes all the problems I have with this version perfectly! The running, and the leaning in for the kiss -- for what seems like HOURS. It drives me crazy. And where is the lovely letter-writing scene? But I do like some things about this one too. Mostly different things from you though. I'm not crazy about this Anne. She's about the same as the other one, just good and bad in different ways. And I do like Penry-Jones pretty well, though I agree with your reasons for disliking him. He doesn't look at all weather-worn. If only I could mix the good of this version and the good of the other together...

    Great review Hamlette!

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    1. Hee. I think the general consensus is that neither this one nor the 1995 is great, and we need a better one. Maybe in a few years. Oh, what I'd give to see Chris Hemsworth as Wentworth!

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    2. Ha! And that's what I just said on your comment on my post! We need a new version. And I would by no means be opposed to Hemsworth! :D

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  3. I love this movie, but I love Rupert-Perry Jones a lot! True he did seem young but I loved him all the same! I didn't like the last scene where shes running to find him. cuz I couldn't understand what she was saying at all cause she was breathing so hard. and really? 45 seconds to decide if they should kiss? So I agree with you on most of it. I do love Cap. Harville!!!

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    1. I've been informed it was really only 20 seconds, but it felt like 45 :-)

      Isn't this Capt. Harville lovely? I want to watch a movie all about him and his adventures in the navy.

      And I can see how Jones could be very appealing -- like I said, I'd like to see him insomething else. He just didn't work as this character for me.

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  4. It's meh overall, but I'm in love with Rupert, so... ;)

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    1. Hee! I know how that goes. I mean, I'm the person who keeps getting tempted to buy Snow White and the Huntsman just for the Chris Hemsworthiness. There are quite a few movies I will not only willingly watch but actually own just because I like one person in them. Is that sad?

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    2. ... no, no that is not sad. That is called being a fan girl. ;)

      "Persuasion," for me, has never worked. I'm not sure if it's the plot set up, or the fact that I have never liked the ENTIRE CAST, but it's always been the one Austen adaption that makes me go "... eh," unlike Emma or P&P or S&S. It's kind of sad.

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  5. Ah, I love this Persuasion. I can't wrap my head around the 1995 version, because I think it's "ugly", which is a ridiculously bad judgment of a movie. :D But, yes, the 45 second "are you gonna kiss me or not" made me want to throw sofa pillows at the TV. I also rather liked Mr. Penry-Jones, because he's easy on the eyes, so to speak. And I LOVED Sally Hawkins as Anne. When she was at the Oscars, I felt like screaming at the TV "I KNEW SALLY HAWKINS BEFORE SHE WAS SUPER FAMOUS" which doesn't actually make sense. :D Overall, I like the movie, and I love Persuasion's story, which I still think is the hardest Austen to read/watch. Poor Anne really had to work for her happily ever after, and I always want to cheer for her, more than I ever did for Elizabeth Bennet. :)

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    1. Lol, yes, that's a ridiculously bad judgement, but at the same time, I've disliked movies for their look or feel, so I know what you mean.

      Isn't it nice when an obscure artist of any sort you've liked for a long time suddenly gets popular, and you're like, "YES! They're appreciated at last!"

      "Persuasion" is my favorite Austen novel, but I agree that it can be hard to read simply because it's not as funny as the others, and I spend so much time feeling bad for Anne. I find "Mansfield Park" the hardest to read, myself, mostly because I don't like any of the characters much at all.

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  6. I SO agree about all that running and ridiculousness at the end! I really, really do NOT like that part. And the forever pause before the kiss? No thank you. But Sally Hawkins? Yes! I loved her as Anne! I'm not sure I can say which Anne I like better, her or Amanda Root. They both do a fine job.

    I do have to admit that I'm rather fond of Rupert as Wentworth though. What can I say? That face! (Yes, I'm quite shallow like that. ;)

    Not a fan of the shaky camera either. I have to adjust to it every single time I watch. But as I'm such a huge fan of the story itself, I do have a copy of this as well as the 1995 version and have rewatched both multiple times. Although I'm still waiting for that perfect combo of the right Anne with the right Wentworth and the right scenes! (I didn't like that they switched the conversation about men and women to happen with Benwick and at a moment when Wentworth couldn't hear. That scene is so pivotal! it should not have been changed! Okay. Rant over.) I can hope anyway, right? :)

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    1. Shallow, schmallow. Faces are important! Just so happens this one didn't strike my fancy, is all.

      And yes, switching that conversation was a bad idea. I started to worry we weren't going to get Wentworth's letter at all! At least they didn't do that.

      If we wait a few more years, someone else will make a new version, and maybe it will be perfect :-)

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  7. Okay, I just tried leaving a comment but I don't know what happened to it so I will try again. I hope my comment doesn't appear twice.

    Anyway, I watched this version of Persuasion 2 years ago and reviewed it. I was not taken with it at all. Rupert Perry-Jones is handsome, but not my idea of Captain Wentworth. I thought he appeared too pale to be the windswept at sea Captain. Just overall I think he slightly missed the mark as the Captain. He was just there as eye candy.

    I liked Sally Hawkins as Anne. Amanda Root plays Anne in the 1995 version. I like her a lot, but I found her portrayal of Anne too docile and quiet.

    There is an earlier film versdion of Persuasion that was made in 1971. I purchased it from Amazon 2 years ago. I did not care for it. Persuasion is my favprite Jane Austen novel, and so far none of the film adaptation are great. I would love to see another version that will knock it out of the ballpark.

    Richard Armitage is too old in real life to be Captain Wentworth, but I would still love to see him in the role. If I remember correctly from reading the novel, the Captain is 33 and Anne is 27 or 28.

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    1. You know, I could totally see Richard Armitage as a wind-swept captain, home from the wars, rich and heart-broken, by turns aloof and kind.

      I haven't seen the 1971 version, but I can't recall ever reading a positive review of it. Still, if it ever crosses my path, I'll probably give it a try, just because "Persuasion" is my favorite Austen book too.

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  8. I enjoyed this review! I agreed with a lot of what you said but you still gave me more of an understanding as to why certain people out there love this version so much.

    Putting aside my intense dislike of this version aside for a moment I will admit that someone who hasn't read the book would probably find it easier to follow than the 1995 version. And I do love Anthony Stewart Head as Sir Walter because, as we both know, Anthony Stewart Head can do no wrong. *I know he credits himself as Anthony Head these days but I'm a stubborn Buffy fan who refuses!* :D But I still dislike the leads in this version and the changes to the story (e.g. moving Anne's speech about the constancy of women and the running scene - are terrible. The running scene makes me want to die it's so awful. What were they THINKING?! The 1995 version isn't perfect but I'd take it over this version any day.

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    1. In my head, I call him "Tony Head" because that's how Joss refers to him in the Buffy commentaries :-D

      Let's just say I own a copy of the 1995 version, but I won't be buying this one. I'm glad I've seen it, and actually I think my mom might like it a lot, but it's not one I want to see over and over, which is my criterion for whether a movie belongs on my shelves or not.

      Anyway, glad to help you see things from a bit different perspective!

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  9. I definitely agree with you on a lot of this stuff--Persuasion is also my favorite JA novel, but I was disappointed in this version. Even though I really enjoyed Rupert Perry-Jones as Captain Wentworth (to me, he seemed pretty angry and bitter but still warm-hearted underneath, which is basically how I read Captain Wentworth), I didn't like how short and rushed and generally shoddy the movie felt. And the piano music was not good.

    I actually didn't like Sally Hawkins as Anne Elliot very much--personally, I thought she seemed too fluttery and nervous to be a good Anne.

    Persuasion is such an AWESOME novel, I really feel like it deserves a better screen adaptation. I mean something that's actually a good movie in its own right, like S&S 2008 or P&P 2005. And if they ever do make a new adaptation, I wish they would cast Claire Foy as Anne Elliot (the girl who played Amy Dorrit in the BBC's Little Dorrit). I think she would be able to do the whole "delicate but full of quiet strength" thing perfectly. What do you think?

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    1. They just need to make a Really Good Movie Version of Persuasion, and that's all there is to it!!!

      I find it really odd that the same person composed this wretched score AND the beautiful, ethereal, haunting score for North and South. How is that possible?

      I've yet to see Little Dorrit, but I've seen pictures of Claire Foy, and she might do nicely.

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    2. Yes. Totally. If they would just do the book justice, I really think it could become the best Jane Austen movie ever--Anne and Wentworth's story is so beautiful and touching and dramatic.

      I somehow get the feeling that Persuasion 2007 was a relatively low-budget production; maybe they just didn't give the composer enough time to write a good score!

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    3. I don't know if it had a lower budget than many BBC productions, but it does seem to try to be "cool" and "modern" a little too hard. Music and camerawork included. Ah well, we just have to wait for someone to try again!

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