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Persuasion (2007): An Austen Adaptation to Persuade

Film Review: Persuasion (2007)

Persuasion is a made-for-TV film adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel of the same name. And I’ll say it right now: the prior adaptation of Persuasion from 1995, starring Amanda Root and Ciarán Hinds, is one of my all-time favorite movies. So, when I first watched this version many moons ago, I wasn’t totally sold on it. In my initial estimation, it didn’t quite measure up to the utter delightfulness of its predecessor.

Some years on and more than a few viewings later, I may just have to adjust that initial impression. ITV’s adaptation, starring Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones, has much to recommend it and much in which to delight. It’s certainly grown on, ahem, persuaded this Persuasion fan.

Overlooked Anne

The film starts with Anne Elliot (Sally Hawkins) determinedly striding about the estate, pen and paper in hand, overseeing the packing and cleaning and general hub-bub of activity that is going on. The family seat, Kellynch Hall, is to be let, in order to lessen expenses and curtail spending of Anne’s extravagant, utterly snobbish father Sir Walter (Anthony Head) and elder sister Elizabeth (Julia Davis).

Anne is the practical, grounded, levelheaded, longsuffering, dutiful daughter, attempting continually to buffer and contain her father and sisters’ aristocratic airs and snobberies and silliness. She’s 27, unmarried, quiet, the confidante of one and all. She dependably problem-solves for everyone else, but a problem soon presents itself that she can’t quite seem to solve. A problem involving herself.

RELATED: WHICH VERSION IS BETTER? PERSUASION FILM COMPARISON

The new tenants of Kellynch Hall, the Crofts, are sister and brother-in-law to her former fiancé, Captain Frederick Wentworth (Rupert Penry-Jones). She broke off the engagement, eight years prior, at the prodding and advice of her mother substitute and friend, Lady Russell (Alice Krige). Lady Russell found the match imprudent. So, Anne was persuaded to go against the wishes of her heart, to be sensible, and has regretted the decision ever since.

While her older sister and father head to Bath, Anne is sent to the nearby Musgroves. There her hypochondriac younger sister is always complaining and ailing and wanting an ear to bend. Longsuffering Anne complies, taking care of nephews and hearing all about Mary’s complaints with her in-laws, the Musgroves, and the Musgroves’ complaints about Mary. And her own worst fears materialize when Captain Wentworth – as dreaded – returns to Kellynch Hall for the first time in eight years to visit his sister. Suddenly, Anne must see the man she rejected, the man whose love for her has turned to hate, whom she longs for still.

RELATED: ANNE AND CATHERINE AT 200: CELEBRATING TWO CENTURIES OF JANE AUSTEN’S PERSUASION AND NORTHANGER ABBEY

The vivacious Musgrove daughters are duly impressed by the dashing naval captain, while Anne is dismissed and ignored by her spurned former lover. He lavishes attention on the Musgrove girls, as Anne’s inner turmoil mounts. Can Captain Wentworth forgive her and come to love her again? Can Anne forgive herself and proclaim her love despite what family and society may say?

Persuaded to Enjoy This Persuasion

I don’t want to give it all away, but there are miscommunications aplenty, a solid rogue with (disingenuous) romantic intentions in the form of the distant cousin and heir to Kellynch Hall, Mr. Elliot (Tobias Menzies), and one of the best love letters even penned in literature. And might I just say that Rupert Penry-Jones sports some fantastic hair as Captain Wentworth. I don’t know how authentic and true to the period it may be, but it’s a great cut.

A pretty mug, if ever there was one, Penry-Jones makes a fine captain. Although I did miss a wee bit more weathering on that fine face of his. You know, a man who’s been sailing the high seas and getting into watery scrapes should probably be a bit more rugged. And here I’m thinking of Ciarán Hinds. But there’s a sensitivity to him that begins to shine through, which is quite endearing.

RELATED: PERSUASION (1995) REVIEW – FAITHFUL ADAPTATION OF JANE AUSTEN’S ENDURING CLASSIC

All sorts of things are condensed and mixed around and dropped – such is the nature of adaptations. Anne spends a lot of time writing in her diary, complete with voiceovers, staring at us – the viewers – with knowing looks. Sally Hawkins is an actress who can pull off such wordless close-ups. Heck, she was just heralded with all sorts of nominations and awards for playing a mute cleaning lady in The Shape of Water (2017). So, she’s very good at emoting sans verbiage. She turns into something of a marathon runner at the end, which had me shaking with laughter the first time I saw this film. But now, it’s grown on me. A metaphor made physically manifest of a woman choosing her future, whatever others may say. A sort of unshackling of societal constraints. It’s totally non-canonical but enjoyable nonetheless.

Yes, this version of Persuasion has grown on me. I’ve been persuaded. Sure, I’ve got some issues. But I do love this story so much, that I’m willing to just overlook them and go with the flow. And just enjoy some rather fine locks on a too-handsome Captain Wentworth.

Content Note: Rated PG. Nothing to come after.

Where to Watch: DVD.

What are your thoughts on this adaptation of Persuasion? Let me know in the comments! 


Photo Credit: ITV.

OVERALL RATING

Four and a half corset rating

“You had me at hello.”

ROMANCE RATING

Five heart rating

“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.

I have loved none but you.”

 

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By on January 29th, 2019

About Jessica Jørgensen

A lover of words, stories and storytellers since her youth and just plain curious by nature, Jessica embarked on a very long academic journey that took her across a continent (from Canada's west coast to its east) and even to the other side of the globe, where she currently lives an expat existence in Denmark. She now trails many fancy initials behind her name, if she ever cares to use them, and continues to be ever so curious. She's a folklorist, a mother, a wife, a middle child, a small town girl, a beekeeper, an occasional quilter, a jam-maker. She curates museum exhibits, gets involved in many cultural projects for this and that, collects oral histories when she can find the time and continues to love stories in all their many and varied forms. The local librarians all know her by name.

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7 thoughts on “Persuasion (2007): An Austen Adaptation to Persuade”

  1. I find it difficult to choose a favorite between this and the 1995 adaptation. They both have their pros and cons. However, one nitpicky detail that drives me crazy with this version is Anne’s bangs. I find them so distracting and hate them with a passion. My mom and sister have almost stopped watching this one with me because I can’t help but comment on it every time.

    Reply
    • Ha, ha! I can only concur on the bangs, well, Anne’s hair in general. And Wentworth has such fab hair in this one, so her hairdo looks even more out of place (-:

      Reply
  2. I absolutely love this Persuasion. I’ve watched it several times. At the end when Captain Wentworth presents Ann with Kellynch Hall is so moving. She is so happy and the look on his face is so loving. Check it out next time you watch it. It just seems so real and I always rewind and watch this scene again. I will give the 1995 version a viewing as I’m sure I will also enjoy it.
    Alicia

    Reply
    • Well, now I’m going to have to watch it again to take a look at that look at the end (-: Not that it takes much persuading to get me to do that (-: And I can only recommend the 1995 version — still my very favorite (-:

      Reply
  3. AHAHAHAHAHA, YES, the running scene!!! And then that dude (her brother in law?) is just like,”Oh, look what a coincidence that you ran into us while we were leaving.”

    Reply
    • Now, you’ve got me giggling. Yes, it is pretty ridiculous (-: Although my initial annoyances have turned to foolish enjoyment now. Guess I’ve mellowed with age…

      Reply
  4. No mention of the 1971 version?

    I haven’t seen this 2007 version yet so I’ve ordered a copy. The 1995 version is one of my favorites of all time, it is just such a good adaptation with the whole ensemble playing their parts perfectly without anyone overplaying anything, as happened with the mother in the BBC Pride and Prejudice. The heroine has my sympathy throughout the story, unlike Elizabeth Bennett who appears to be won over by money, and Emma Woodhouse who is a spoiled brat throughout most of the story.

    Reply

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