Monday, March 31, 2008

Masterpiece's Sense and Sensibility

Last night was the first installment of Andrew Davies' new Jane Austen Adaptation, Sense and Sensibility. I rather pity the task because it would be hard to improve on the excellent Emma Thompson treatment. Still, they gave it a shot. Bearing in mind that I haven't seen the end yet, here are my impressions:

- What in the world was that opening scene?! My own dear husband had to leave the room until the the real movie started. Sure, I get that it was Willoughby and Eliza but goodness sakes, we don't need to see that!

- Mrs. Dashwood and Margaret are excellent, excellent, excellent. Maybe even better than in the '95 version. Margaret is lively but not ridiculous (no treehouses, no pirates).

- Edward is charming and likable, although a bit too "Hugh Grant wannabe" for my taste.

- Fanny Dashwood is beautiful, cold, and spiteful. Perfect!

- Hattie Morahan is good but she hasn't quite convinced me yet that she is Elinor. I haven't connected to her on an emotional level as I did with Emma Thompson. I know Emma Thompson was too old for the role of Elinor but she made me believe she was Austen's heroine. Ms. Morahan hasn't quite done that for me yet. But, as I say, I haven't seen the entire thing. I think this actress would have been a good choice for Anne Eliot. That was not to be, I guess.

- Charity Wakefield (Marianne) is the weak point in this adaptation. She isn't pretty or talented enough. She doesn't seem passionate and good natured, only willful and stupid. She may improve in the next half, and I sincerely hope she does.

- Colonel Brandon is good. The actor is like a Liam Neeson knock-off but there are worse things to be!

- There are several annoying little mistakes such as Marianne referring to Fanny as "Aunt Fanny" though she is actually their sister-in-law.

- The sound on our PBS station must have been off. At times the "wind" was so loud that Prince Charming asked if they had a waterfall in their bedroom. But everything looked gorgeous, even if there were problems with the sound. And the music is pretty too.

All in all I'm looking forward to next week's conclusion to the Austen season. And that won't be the end of Masterpiece Theatre for me either. I'm anxiously awaiting both A Room With a View and Cranford, although I intend to skip My Boy Jack. Too depressing and I won't be able to stop thinking "Why is Harry Potter pretending to be Kipling's son?"

If you'd like to see it:

But please don't miss Emma Thompson's adaptation:

Picture credit: PBS


MacKenzie said...

I'm not going to do my review until after the second part, for fear of not having enough to say, but I pretty much agree.

Especially about the first scene, I was not expecting that and I didn't really appreciate it. Also, the "Aunt Fanny" thing bugged me too.

Anonymous said...

I did NOT like the first scene, either. Why are they always messing period movies up with that junk?! But I did like the rest of it--thought not as much as the Emma Thompson version, of course. I loved the seashells and scenery and music. And, yes, the actress for Fanny was fantastic. Wow, this new Masterpiece adaption is *almost* pretty good. I actually am looking forward to watching the second half. Too bad I can't say the same for the other ones...

-Christine from Arizona

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