One of my top-ten favorite period dramas, full-stop, the 1995 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion may not be as flashy as the 2007 version, but it feels (to me, at least) better lived-in and more intimate than its more recent sibling. And, frankly, the acting’s better, too.
Recap time! Anne Eliot is 29 and absolutely, 100% a spinster. The eldest, unappreciated daughter of a profligate minor noble, Anne has relegated herself to a life of caring for her worthless family at the expense of her own happiness - having missed her one shot at love years before when her friends and family talked her out of marrying a promising, albeit penniless, naval officer. Forced to leave her quiet life and beloved family home behind when her father finally outspends himself, Anne’s pretty certain things can’t get much worse. Until that once-penniless, now very rich man she once threw over winds up back in her life. And, apparently, gunning for someone else’s hand.
The book is not my favorite Austen, but I like this adaptation in part because it smoothes out the rough patches I object to in the novel (particularly Anne’s utter doormattiness and the incredibly problematic Lady Russell). But, far and away, the film belongs to Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds. Root is utterly believable as the ground-down Anne, and her transformation by the film’s end does not appear to be the result of flattering makeup and angles, but rather her ability to tap into the character’s growing agency and happiness. Hinds, meanwhile, is ferociously intense and, indeed, absolutely believable as an intense and able man who earned his fame and fortune honestly. Their coming together is not necessarily inevitable; there’s a lot of history between the two, and the actors do a fantastic job making that history feel, at times, insurmountable.
This is Austen, so there’s not much in the way of sexytimes - but there’s a lot of smouldering and hand-touching and meaningful-glancing, which is really all we period drama junkies live for, isn’t it?
Hot guys: many.
Period costume: loads!
Forbidden sexytimes: of the smouldering variety.
Sweeping panoramas: a few, though this is a fairly small-scale, domestic film.
Other movie review stuff, like good acting and things: oh, yes!
The last word: A delightful, thoughtful adaptation of Austen’s last novel. Ciaran Hinds may not be as obviously, stunningly good-looking as Rupert Penry-Jones, but he’s still my first choice for Wentworth. Vintagedudes says check it out.