One of the heroines of the English writer Jane Austen He speaks directly to the viewer and looks him in the eye to share the misfortune he has lived quietly for eight years, in the recent adaptation of the novel Persuasionfrom 1817.
The Anne Elliot (Dakota Johnson) from director Carrie Cracknell and screenwriters Ron Bass and Alice Victoria Winslow has chosen to lean on her closest friend, Lady Russell (Nikki Amuka-Bird), and also in wine. Neither of them gives her the answers she’s looking for. Especially the first of hers, whose advice led her to separate from her boyfriend, Frederick Wenworth (Cosmos Jarvis)considering that he did not have enough rank to marry the young woman.
When Anne and her ex they meet again, things have changed; her father has gone bankrupt and has lost his mansion (to go live in a smaller one), while the family of now Captain Wenworth has progressed in life and are the new tenants of the huge house that the Elliots they must leave.
That’s the second noticeable change the film makes. It retains a few select passages, among the best known of the novel, but otherwise uses contemporary and informal language. Anne thinks of Wenworth as her ex, terrible status. The only thing that can be worse is when those involved decide to be civil and remain friends, at least to save face. Which happens, to Anne’s horror.
Screenwriter Ron Bass explains that they wanted to break the fourth wall with the character played by Dakota Johnson, not to make her a narrator, but a friend of the public; she remains in her characterization and at the same time gives context to those who integrate right in the middle of her family history, which bores her, and her sentimental breakup, which she regrets.
Bass justifies the use of this resource to land the story, speed up the action and say goodbye to the long dialogues and descriptions. “What happens in prose is what happens inside people. What happens in the movies, unfortunately, is what happens between people.”
What they wanted to capture, says screenwriter Winslow, is the spirit of Austen’s work. She admits that they appealed to the language of generation Z. “It was a way to take hold of its sensibility in a new way and appeal to modern audiences a little more. To do this, they did not hesitate to introduce a 20th century system, and they had the characters rate each other on a scale of 1 to 10depending on its attractiveness.
“I wanted as many people as possible to see themselves in this film,” adds director Cracknell, speaking of the multi-ethnic cast. “I wanted a really diverse group to be able to walk into this story and feel immersed in it.”
But if you don’t get that immersive experience, you should know that not everyone who has ever read Austen is happy with the result. Film critic Justin C. Chang, columnist for Los Angeles Timeshe was left with the impression that some bot leaked certain quotes from the novel and made a summary of the argument.
“An oversimplification,” opined Richard Lawson, senior film, television and theater critic for Vanity Fair, who found the adaptation very…unpersuasive, were it not for the cinematography of Joe Anderson, 2020 Bafta Award nominee for TopBoy (also on Netflix).
“The dialogues are the best part of any period drama,” one user wrote on Twitter, after reading Chang’s opinion. “If I wanted current and simple language, I would see a modern romance.” (AND)