Monday, February 22, 2010

Masterpiece Classic - Jane Austen's Persuasion

I always enjoy watching Masterpiece Classic on PBS, whichever classic it happens to be that week. Yesterday I watched the 2007 version of Persuasion, starring Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones. I had previously seen Sally Hawkins in 2008's Happy-Go-Lucky and really enjoyed her performance; however, in this film her role was not to be exuberant, outgoing, impish, etc. but to portray the heartache and quiet suffering of a 27-year old Jane Austen heroine who turned her back on love many years ago.

What happens? Anne's love, who she has never forgotten or stopped loving, returns to her neighbourhood after becoming a successful and wealthy captain. She is forced to look upon him again and to feel all the pain of her lost love even as he walks right in front of her.

The beauty of the novel is that it is absolutely bursting with silent, passionate, long-felt, undying love - on both sides. How do you show that on a screen? I felt that, in this version, this wasn't very well done. To me, Anne looked nervous and hyper rather than profoundly in love. Captain Wentworth was portrayed in a smoother manner; however, there was so little character development that he only had a couple of good moments rationed out to him.

I am reminded of last week's Northanger Abbey; however, Persuasion is a more complex and longer novel, so all of the flaws stemming from cramming it into such a short, fast-paced film are more obvious and less easily forgiven. Persuasion is a quiet, subtle novel full of unspoken feelings and significant glances. The film was melodramatic, hyper, and focused completely on moving the action along rather than on the actual characters and their relationships. There were definitely some lovely moments, but mostly it was a bit of a miss for me.

Another good thing though - now I feel like reading the book again! This is an Austen novel that I have only read once so far and now I'm wanting to pick it up all over again.

Do you prefer to always read and watch new things that you've never experienced before, or do you enjoy going back to the same books, films, etc. because they are your favourites and provide something that you yearn for? I know some people have books that they find comforting. Personally, I prefer to go for something new, but when I do go back to something from the past, Jane Austen looms at the forefront :)

1 comment:

  1. I've never seen this version - too bad it didn't live up to your expectations :( Have you seen the Amanda Root version from the mid-90s? That one is fantastic!

    I am guilty of always going back to my favorite books (Pride and Prejudice being my absolute favorite, of course). I'm trying to branch out, but it's not easy, especially when you're busy and want to stick with an old comfort :)