Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sense and Sensibility 2008

This post will be completely boring if you’re not a Jane Austen fan. But I’ve been meaning to review this since I watched it and I think I’d better do it now.

This was probably my favorite of the new adaptations. Mansfield Park was beyond awful, Persuasion had me cheering until they butchered The Letter, and Northanger Abbey was lovely if you ignore the random stuff Andrew Davies threw in. I’m giving you what I didn’t like first, and then winding up with what I did like.


Naturally, the scene at the beginning, but that was such a tacked-on thing I managed to ignore it quite well. And I knew it was coming. Which doesn’t mean it should have been there—I don’t know what Andrew Davies was thinking.

Willoughby was far inferior to Greg Wise. Sorry, it’s true. I looked at him and did not swoon or understand why Marianne would be attracted to him at all. Greg Wise on the other hand, I understood perfectly.

Too much too soon on Willoughby. Where’s the surprise? The mystery?

Too much too soon on Elinor. I felt like I didn’t get enough of an evolution in her character.

They changed Eliza’s story which oddly enough, given Andrew Davies’ predilections for steamy Austen, made it less shocking and sensational. How weird.

Mrs. Dashwood and Fanny are too much like the characters in the 95 version, particularly Fanny. I know the minor characters are probably hard to act without calling on the older version but Fanny’s portrayal was too similar.

Sir John and Mrs. Jennings are just not funny. Although how they could beat Elizabeth Spriggs and Robert Hardy is beyond me.

The lack of Hugh Laurie was sadly felt. I think they should have just left out Mr. Palmer altogether.

Brandon = eeep! I’m sorry, but every time I looked at the actor I thought of Bradley Headstone (a particularly villainous role the actor played in Our Mutual Friend) which is not conducive to happiness and joy for Marianne. I kept expecting him to start bleeding or hit a tombstone.

Must we have a cliff scene? Is it a requirement for a period drama? At least this one makes some sense given the locale, but really.

Marianne’s hair—why is it down? It’s only down some of the time and I know she’s young but why is it down at all?

Ellie? Really? That seemed highly odd and out of place.

Marianne’s costumes seem oddly modern in some places. I’m thinking particularly of her pink headband which looked like something some young ladies of my acquaintance might wear, not something a Regency lady would have worn. Yes, they did wear headband-ish things, but not that sort!

They totally stole the smaller room idea for the ball scene! Heavens!

Also Marianne’s letter scene. Cribbed.


I like Edward very much indeed. For one thing, he’s not Hugh Grant who always annoyed me terribly in that role. Hugh Grant annoys me to begin with, but as Edward he annoys me tenfold. And the actor is very nice and good in his own right. I also felt that his character development was really well thought out.

The music is lovely.

I like the shells—it’s a nice occupation and reminds us that they are in Devon.

The wood-splitting scene, oddly enough. I thought I was going to hate it, but for once I totally bought it. Very strange. My powers of discernment must be going.

Anne cracks me up and reminds me of Josie Pye. Glad they put her in.

Loved Elinor right after Mrs. Jennings comes to see Marianne. The way she drinks the wine…I don’t know, something about that scene just tickled my funny bone.

I liked Marianne a lot. I felt like she brought a very different energy to the part than Kate Winslet did, but I bought her interpretation. I also liked Elinor even though I felt like she cracked, if you want to put it that way, a bit too early. But I think that’s the director, not the actress. It was a bit odd to have a dark-haired Elinor after seeing her as light for so long. And I liked Edward. Did I mention that?

I loved the way they played the scene just after Edward reveals that he is in fact not married. Elinor trying to hold it all together and keep going was really nice and very much in character.

Margaret of this version and Margaret of the 95 version were equally nice, although somewhat different. The 95 Margaret was more prone to inappropriate remarks and was a little more tom-boyish.

All in all, I thought it was really lovely and one that I’ll enjoy watching in the future.


Ruth said...

Interesting post. We watched the new movies too and I have to agree totally with your assessment of Mansfield Park. I really liked the old Sense and Sensibility, but the new one did have its charms.

DebD said...

you and I had very similar likes/dislikes.

I hated Mansfield was ghastly - and its already my least-favorite. Billie Piper was a complete miscast (including her annoying hair!).

In Sense and Sensibility I also missed Hugh Laurie, Greg Wise, and Alan Rickman. While I liked the actor who played Brandon, I also kept thinking about that creepy teacher in Our Mutual Friend, but I thought the budding romance between him and Marianne was done up a bit better in the newer version.

I still like the Ciarin Hinds Persuasion There's just something wonderful about ugly Ciarin getting his true love that is so wonderful. I think they also played the tension between them a lot better... In the newer version Ann just came across as a mousy, wet blanket. I think with the older one, you just knew there was more going on and it was about to burst out any minute.

I've never read the books (although I did attempt Mansfield Park) - I hope to read Persuasion quite soon. So I can only go by the different movie versions I've seen.

MaureenE said...

Ruth, I do love the old Sense and Sensibility as well and was actually reluctant to watch the new one at all. But I found that, for me at least, the two can co-exist quite peaceably. Both have things they do well and things they could improve on, but they're both decent adaptations.

Deb, I completely agree about Mansfield Park. I don't know why on earth they cast Billie Piper.

I would love the old Persuasion beyond a shadow of a doubt, except that I do not like Ciaran Hinds and did not like him in that role in particular. I know it's not a very popular opinion, but I just don't like him. Which kind of ruins it. I felt like most of the faults of the new version were writing and direction and I liked the actors very much indeed.

Persuasion as a book is quite lovely--probably my favorite of all of them. I'm planning to do an Austen re-read this summer--we'll see how it goes.

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

The girls may comment later if they have time (we're going out of town for the weekend)- they would pretty much agree with you, I think.
Except.... I agree with you about Willoughby, but they pointed out to me that *this* Willoughby looks like a faun, something just out of the woods and not yet tamed, and that would have appealed to Marianne. I had to admit they had a point.

Eden said...

I hope it is okay to comment. I came across your review after searching for reviews on this movie.

I liked your review because many of the things you liked about the movie were things that I also appreciated. And you pointed out dislikes that I had not even paid attention to until I read what you had to say. (Esepecially the opening scene that Andrew Davies added.)

You can read my review too here if you are interested. I talk mostly about the new 2008 BBC version, but I also mention the 1995 version--my favorite.