Release Date: 07/15/22 [Netflix]
"Eight years after Anne Elliot was persuaded not to marry a dashing man of humble origins, they meet again. Will she seize her second chance at true love?"
OUR MOVIE REVIEW:
Jane Austen adaptations are one of the several books to screen adaptations that seem to show no signs of ever stopping, whether they have yet to be adapted or one that's being reinterpreted. While a handful of these films are well acclaimed, it doesn't stop them from being remade over and over. This leads to a plethora of film offerings that more so fall in the middle of the pack to lower-end adaptations. Netflixs' Persuasion places itself right between the acclaimed and the middle of the pack.
Directed by Carrie Cracknell with a screenplay written by Ron Bass, Alice Victoria Winslow, and based on Jane Austen's last novel–Persuasion is the latest film presentation for Austenites to consume. Although I wouldn't put myself into that classification, I have found most of the Austen adaptations to be delightful. The period setting, English countryside settings, and marvelous clothing attire during these times make it easy to be captivated and live in their world for a few hours. While those accustomed aspects to a Jane Austen property are essential, Persuasion proves that an injection of modernity and a dose of spunk to its story and characters make for a refreshing and breezy 1 hour and 47 minutes.
With its protagonist in Anne Elliot, Bass and Winslows’ script breaks the fourth wall throughout the film, executed more similarly to Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag than other films or television series that have used this mechanic. From what I understand, this differs from the source material. Anne Elliot is an interesting character herself, but the wit, charm, and comedic quips the character imbues, triumphs thanks to the fourth-wall-breaking moments. Yet even though the character is well written, obviously most of the success will ride on the performance by the actress, and Dakota Johnson proves that she is more than up to the task. Giving off the impression that she was the perfect casting pick for this lead, despite not being English she manages to deliver a British accent well enough so that it's not distracting. Mia McKenna-Bruce plays Anne's cousin Mary Musgrove, a character who seems as though she wasn't ready to grow up and take on responsibilities such as having children but wanted the benefits that come with being married. One of the key aspects of Mary's character is how unintentionally funny she is. A lot of this is owed to how well McKenna-Bruce sells this character, but also the back-and-forth banter that comes with Anne and Mary's relationship. Anne also points out to the audience how “extra” Mary can be most of the time. While Mary believes marriage is the greatest gift solely because the woman is taken care of, Anne is only interested in finding someone she can truly love to marry. Anne says she had found it 8 years ago with a naval man named Wentworth. She tells us about this in the film's opening moments and how she had been struggling with the decision she made to let him go because her family was disapproving of marrying someone poor. Wentworth, played by Cosmo Jarvis, unfortunately, takes on the most underwritten character in the film. Jarvis attempts to do what he can with the role that mainly involves being looked at from a distance, or looking solemn. Suffice to say, the character of Wentworth could have benefitted from having more to do.
Persuasions' narrative structure will not surprise anyone, even though you'll know where it's heading after a certain point the film doesn't subvert itself into the typical sappy melancholic territory that similar stories charge towards. Those that would usually deter from watching a Jane Austen adaptation or a period set rom-com would benefit from giving Persuasion a chance. Its sharp writing, humor, story, and performances put it above a lot of the other rom-com options that flood our screens every year.