Movie: Persuasion (The new one on Masterpiece Theatre)
Like/Don't Like: The day after I felt like it was okay, but after thinking about it I'm going to have to give it a don't like.
I should not have read the book just before watching the movie. I didn't intend to. It's just that I was in the mood for a Jane Austen book and even though I don't believe is having favorites, Persuasion would probably be it. I had no idea that it would be the first one shown on Masterpiece Theatre's Jane-a-palooza.
I try to avoid reading books just before seeing an adaptation of it because I find that it ruins it for me. I'm a firm believer that film adaptations should be allowed to stand on their own, seperate from the book. I'm okay if little things are tweaked here or there for time or continuity. As long as the movie is true to the spirit of the book. If the tone and pacing and themes are the same then I'm fine with a few characters or scenes missing. I do have a bit of the purist in me, which is probably why I think that the A&E Pride and Prejudice is the best, but I try really hard to supress that when I'm watching a movie because I want to enjoy it.
And I really wanted to enjoy this new Persuasion. I love the 1995 version (I just recently bought the dvd of it because my tape was so worn out.) and I love the book, but I didn't want any of that to get in the way of my loving this new one.
And it didn't get in the way, because there wasn't a whole lot to love. Sure, there were a few moments where I felt like they got it right, like when Anne and Fredrick meet again after 8 years, but for the most part it was just too rushed. I don't know whose idea it was to fit the whole movie into 90 minutes, but it was a bad one. I'll give it points for covering most everything but this was a perfect example of how sometimes faithfulness to the story gets in the way of actually telling the story. There were so many times when I thought that they should have shown something instead of telling us about it. It felt like they adapted the Cliff's Notes instead of the book.
And the parts they weren't faithful to were some of the most important parts of the book. Like the speech Anne gives to Harville about "loving longest" which, let's be honest, is one of the best book passages of all time. And the end, when Captain Wentworth writes her the letter, was butchered. And then there was all that silly running around Bath. What was that?! And I won't even mention the kiss at the end except to say that it was icky. And disturbing. And weird. I need to change the subject.
Now that I think about it, they probably would have been able to fit it all into 90 minutes had the director not chosen to have every other scene end with Anne gazing longingly into the camera. We get it Anne. You love him. You feel miserable that you broke his heart and you want him to forgive you. Staring desperately into the camera is not going to fix that.
My main problem was that they short changed every character. Jane Austen is a master at characters and she takes the time to develop them. This movie had no time at all to do that and so it turned all of them into caricatures without any context to the story. It made the whole film see cheap.
I was disappointed. And it's made me a little nervous for the other ones. Sigh.