This is the very first time I’m reviewing an adaptation but seeing it’s still highly relevant, and, after all, I have reviewed The Turn of the Screw in Opera, I thought why not? I do have a penchant for those lovely BBC Regency and Victorian productions. It’s also fun to spot any other British actors in any one of these productions. It seems like a rite of passage for each actor to star at least once in a BBC period piece, Miss Marple or Poirot.
This 2007 adaptation of Persuasion really is a lovely companion to the novel. It is fairly short and it doesn’t attempt to laboriously reproduce and insert each and every scene. Sally Hawkins (Fingersmith, Happy-Go-Lucky) plays Anne Elliot, an unmarried 27-year old woman who is pushed around and unappreciated by her family. Her father (played here by Anthony Head a.k.a. ‘Giles’) and elder sister, Elizabeth, are very proud people who are adamant that segregation between high and low society and the purity of titles be maintained. At the age of nineteen, Anne was persuaded by her godmother to reject the proposal of her beloved because he was a poor, penniless sailor. Broken hearted, Frederic Wentworth (a very worthy and most eye catching , Rupert Penry-Jones) leaves for the seas.
In the current day, Anne’s father and sister have bankrupted the family’s fortune with their reckless spending and inability to concede that they are not as wealthy as their title (Sir Elliot) may indicate. Their family home is let out and Sir Elliot and Elizabeth go off to Bath while Anne goes to stay with her younger, married and whiny sister nearby. In true Austenite coincidences, the Elliot house is leased to Frederic’s sister and her husband. News have come that Frederic, now Captain Wentworth, is now extremely wealthy and is coming down to visit. News of Captain Wentworth’s return distresses Anne, angry that she was persuaded to let go of the one man she truly ever loved and she is certain that he is still angry that she could have been so easily persuaded. The two inevitably meet, moving in the same circle of friends, and there is a lot of subtle flirting and tension as they get to know one another again without meaning to.
The cast was fantastic although I wasn’t too sure about Hawkins’ Anne. I had imagined Anne as more confident and not as easily startled or flustered. Penry-Jones’ Captain Wentworth was divine. The camera work was a little bizarre sometimes, with odd angles and frames, the ending especially so with all the running and close ups.
I had read Persuasion last year and I absolutely loved it (though I didn’t review it). It is such a quiet, strong and mature approach to romance. Dare I say that I found it even more romantic than Pride and Prejudice? I thought Austen could never top Darcy but Wentworth (he went off to the seas to find his worth?) comes pretty darn close.