When we are young, we may dream of marriage and the life that follows. But like many dreams, reality does not match the fantasy.
In the 2014 film, Effie Gray, the title character whose full name is Euphemia Chalmers Gray (Dakota Fanning) is 19 when she marries the much older writer John Ruskin (Greg Wise). What starts out to be a good match goes south fast. John refuses to consummate their marriage. Needing the physical and emotional attention she should be getting from her husband, Effie turns to pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais (Tom Sturridge). Effie also has a friend in Lady Elizabeth Eastlake (Emma Thompson). After five years of marriage Effie has to make a choice. She could stay in her empty and loveless marriage. Or, she could defy the strict standards of the Victorian era and find the happiness she deserves.
I truly enjoyed this movie. Written by Thompson, it has the usual beats of BPD (British Period Drama), but it is more than what the viewer expects. It is a story of female empowerment in an era in which women had no power. Based on Gray’s life, it is powerful, emotional, and a reminder that us females not only have a voice, we have the right to use it.
Sense and Sensibility was Jane Austen’s first published novel. Writing under the pseudonym of “a lady”, Sense and Sensibility is the story of two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. When their father passes away, their elder brother inherits the family estate, Norland Park. Knowing that Norland Park is no longer their home, Elinor and Marianne, with their mother and younger sister Margaret are forced to find a new home and make a new life elsewhere.
As I did with the other novels, I’m going to compare and contrast the most recent adaptations.
Cast: Elinor (Emma Thompson), Marianne (Kate Winslet), Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman), Edward Ferrars (Hugh Grant) and John Willoughby (Greg Wise) .
Pro’s: Directed by Ang Lee, with a screenplay by Emma Thompson, the 1995 movie retains Austen’s voice as a writer. It is a charming movie, for both the general movie fan and the ardent Janeite. Greg Wise looks awful good in breeches.
Cons: Let’s face it, as good as an actress and a screenwriter Emma Thompson is, she was far from 19 when this movie was made. Elinor is still a teenager, regardless of the actress stepping into her shoes.
Cast: Elinor (Hattie Morahan), Marianne (Charity Wakefield), Colonel Brandon (David Morrisey), Edward Ferrars (Dan Stevens) and John Willoughby (Dominic Cooper).
Pro’s: With a screenplay written by Andrew Davies and the younger characters played by a whose who of young British actors, this adaptation has a lot going for it. Davies fleshes out secondary story lines that that makes the primary story line vibrant and alive. I also like is that the cast is age appropriate.