Tag Archives: Jennifer Ehle

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

Emily Dickinson is one of the most iconic poets in American history.

The new film, A Quiet Passion, starring Cynthia Nixon as Emily and Jennifer Ehle as her sister/best friend Vinnie, starts off when Emily is a young woman. Unconventional from an early age, the film starts when Emily is in school. The teacher asks the students a question about religion. While the rest of the students quietly answer the teacher’s question, Emily is outwardly defiant and answers the teacher’s question on her own terms.

A short time later, the film flashes forward to Emily as an adult. Still unconventional, Emily writes in the early morning hours and shows no interest in the traditional path of marriage and children. As illness sets in and she becomes a recluse with a very sharp tongue, life changes and the relationships with her sister and brother, Austin (Duncan Duff) are tested.

I must clarify something before I proceed. I have heard of Emily Dickinson, but I have not read any of her poetry. This review is strictly based on the movie and not my knowledge (or lack thereof) of her life and work. My problem with the film is that a) it’s long and b) even with a stellar cast and respected writer/director like Terrence Davies, I was really just underwhelmed by the film.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

A Quiet Passion is presently in theaters.

1 Comment

Filed under Books, Feminism, History, Writing

20 Years And You’ve Never Looked Better

Several weeks ago, Jane Austen fans celebrated the 20th anniversary of the 1995 Pride and Prejudice.

There is something to be said about a miniseries that audiences and critics are talking about 20 years after its initial premiere.

The list below is the reasons why it has lasted as long as it has and continues to have a lasting legacy on  period drama.

  • Colin Firth: You knew this was coming. Darcy may have started out as a d-bag, but in the end, you root for him and Lizzy to find their happy ending. And of course, there is the lake scene.

 

  • Jennifer Ehle: While Ms. Ehle is part of a long list of actresses to play Austen’s most famous heroine, she was and still is my favorite Lizzie. She in impertinent, intelligent, sarcastic, human but also loves her family despite their flaws and knows herself enough to know whom she would rather spend her life with.

 

 

  • The miniseries is as close to book as you can get: It is as if Jane Austen, wherever she is, was watching over this production. It is absolute perfection.
  • It still inspires new fan fiction, you tube videos, fan images and brings in new readers to Austen: If after 20 years, the miniseries still brings in new fans, I think they did it right.

Happy 20th Anniversary Pride and Prejudice!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Television

Possession-Book And Movie Review

The most thrilling love stories are often the most mysterious and the most dangerous.

A.S. Byatt’s 1991 novel, Possession, is about love that is both mysterious and forbidden.

In Victorian England, Randolph Henry Ash and Christabel LaMotte are poets who are embarking on an affair. He is married and she has settled into a comfortable life with her longtime companion.  In the late 1980’s, Dr. Maud Bailey and Roland Michell are academics who are separately studying the lives and literature of Ash and LaMotte.  They come together to complete their research and begin to build a relationship, but must protect the research when a rival seeks to claim the information they have discovered for his own.

In 2002, Possession was made into a movie with Jeremy Northam as Ash, Jennifer Ehle as LaMotte, Gwyneth Paltrow as Maud and Aaron Eckhart as Roland.

The book is excellent, through it is tedious at points. The movie, for obvious reasons (if you know me well enough or your a frequent visitor to my blog, you would know why) is enjoyable.

I recommend both.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Books, Movie Review, Movies

Throwback Thursday Movie Part 2- The Kings Speech

King George VI (father of Queen Elizabeth) was not born to be king. He was the second son. His older brother Edward (who would abdicate the thrown to marry Wallis Simpson) was heir to the throne. Known to his family as Bertie, he stammered when he spoke. No one expected him to become King Of England.

The 2010 Oscar winning movie, The Kings Speech chronicled Bertie’s transformation from a man who spoke with a stammer and suffered from crippling self esteem to a King who would become the leader that Great Britain would need when World War II broke out.

Bertie (Colin Firth) is Duke Of York and third in line to the throne after his father and older brother. His wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) seeks out a speech therapist who might help her husband. She finds Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an Australian with an unorthodox treatment method. Bertie has seen several speech therapists, all whom have failed to cure him. He sees Lionel only to please his wife and is reluctant to accept his methods.

As events at home and in Europe enfold, Lionel and Bertie begin to move from the standard doctor/patient relationship to becoming friends. Lionel begins to see the man under the title and sees the potential. But can Bertie see that and rise to the challenge when fate (and his brother’s abdication) declare that he will be king?

This movie deserved every nomination and every award that it received. There is a universality to the movie. We all have flaws and scars. But when push comes to shove, can we rise above those flaws and scars or will they forever keep us down?

The treat of this movie, for my fellow Janeites is a mini 1995 Pride and Prejudice reunion. I’m not ashamed to say that one of the reasons I love this movie is that Tom Hooper had the good sense (knowing that he cast Colin Firth in the lead role) to cast Jennifer Ehle as Myrtle, Lionel’s wife (they have a brief scene together) and and David Bamber as the director of a theater that Lionel is auditioning for.

I love this movie.

Leave a comment

Filed under Movie Review, Movies

Pride and Prejudice 1995 Vs Pride and Prejudice 2005

I think it is pretty safe to say that Pride and Prejudice is Jane Austen’s most famous novel. Most people, regardless of whether they have read the novel or not, have at least heard of it.

Part of it’s success is due to the adaptations that Hollywood has provided us. The most famous adaptations are the 1995 miniseries and the 2005 movie.

Like my previous post about Mansfield Park , I will try to honestly debate both adaptations.

1995 Pride and Prejudice

Cast: Elizabeth Bennet (Jennifer Ehle), Fitzwilliam Darcy (Colin Firth), Mr. Bennet (Benjamin Whitrow), Mrs. Bennet (Alison Steadman), Lady Catherine De Bourgh (Barbara Leigh-Hunt)

Pros: Colin Firth in clingy pants (that ingenious line is from Lost In Austen, which I highly recommend). Sorry, I had to get that out.  Aside from that, Firth and Ehle have solid chemistry. It’s just there, you know that something is going to happen between their characters regardless of how much of the novel the viewer has read. There is so much detail in this adaptation, it is as if Miss Austen was on set during filming.  Every actor is perfectly cast.

Cons: The only con that I can think of is that some of the actors were a bit older than their characters, especially the parental figures in the novel.  But it’s not really a con because they were so effective as their characters that you forget there may be a 10 or 15 year age difference between the actor and the character.

2005 Pride and Prejudice 

Cast: Elizabeth Bennet (Keira Knightley), Fitzwilliam Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen), Mr. Bennet (Donald Sutherland), Mrs. Bennet (Brenda Blethyn), Lady Catherine De Bourgh (Judi Dench)

Pros: This is a well put together movie. Director Joe Wright and screen writer Deborah Moggach created a very marketable movie that appeals to all, not just the Janeite fandom community. As Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam, Knightley and MacFadyen are both age appropriate and effective in their roles. This was my first real introduction, not just to Pride and Prejudice, but to Miss Austen as well. It works as a gateway to the other novels and overall Janeite fandom.

Cons: It is a 2 hour movie. The difference in making a 2 hour movie versus a 6 hour miniseries is that sometimes story lines have to be condensed and characters have to be cut out.

In conclusion, the winner is…. The 1995 miniseries

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Jane Austen, Movies, Pride and Prejudice

My Favorite Jane Austen Adaptations

Adapting a book into a performable format is complicated. It has to be true to the original novel and please the fans while appealing to the entire audience, not just the hard core fan base.

I am a Janeite. As one might be able to guess my personal library and DVD collection contains a fair amount of Jane Austen related materials.

I would to share my top three favorite Jane Austen adaptations and why these three films should be viewed as templates for any writer or filmmaker looking to adapt a book.

My criteria is the following:

1. The actors have to look the part. The chemistry has to be there. Otherwise it all falls apart. (Yes, I am looking at you, 1996 Jane Eyre. William Hurt was too old for the part of Edward Rochester and had zero chemistry with Charlotte Gainsbourg).

2. The set has to look right. Every reader has their own idea of what the setting looks like, but it has to like right.

3.  It MUST follow the book as much as possible.

That being said, here my favorite Jane Austen Adaptations

3. 1995 Sense and Sensibility

Directed by Ang Lee and written by Emma Thompson  (who also played the lead role of Elinor Dashwood), this adaptation is beautiful.

Joining Emma Thompson is Kate Winslet as Marianne Dashwood, Hugh Grant as Edward Ferrars and Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon.

Putting aside the fact that Emma Thompson was a generation older than her character and played Elinor as if she was in her late 20’s, I have no complaints about this adaptation. I’ve read that some people didn’t think that Hugh Grant was the right actor to play Edward, but Edward Ferrars is a bit of a controversial character within Jane Austen fiction. I personally think that Dan Stevens was a better Edward, but to each their own.

2. 1995 Persuasion 

Persuasion is the last of Austen’s completed novels. It has an Autumnal feeling, sad and sweet. As if she knew deep down that this would be her last completed work.

Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds play the two leads, Anne Elliot and Captain Frederick Wentworth. The chemistry between them is palpable.  They are both age appropriate and look like they have experienced a bit of life.

It’s lush, it’s beautiful and as with the novel, when you think that second chances don’t happen, they do happen. So does the happiness that you thought was lost forever.

1. 1995 Pride And Prejudice

You knew this was obvious. This is the one where Colin Firth in clingy pants strips down to his knickers and white shirt and dives into the lake.

Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle have some of the best on screen chemistry that I have ever seen. While I am sure they both would like the audience to look at their entire body of work and  not just this particular performance, there is no denying that whatever it is that make actors look good together on screen, they have it.

The supporting cast works. The filmmakers crossed their t’s and dotted their eyes with this production.  I still get shivers when I hear the theme song.

I recommend any of these films for any viewer or Janeite, whether they be a newbie or old fan.

Leave a comment

Filed under Emma, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice

Death Comes to Pemberley- A Good Sequel

There are a lot fanfiction writers out there. Very few are lucky enough to not only see their work in print, but also see it on screen.

PD James’s sequel to Pride and Prejudice, Death Comes to Pemberley aired the UK over the past few days.  I was lucky enough to see it before my American IP address prevented me from seeing it. 

The 1995 Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle minieries is not only the best filmed adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, but the best of the filmed adaptations of any Austen novel.   Any adaptations will always bring comparisons, but this adaptations stands on its own.

Ms. James’s novel starts 6 years after the original novel ends. Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy are happily married with a young son.  On the eve of the annual Lady Anne Ball, Lydia arrives in hysterics that Captain Denny has been murdered and her husband is in the woods surrounding Pemberley.  During investigation and trial, Georgiana must  choose between duty and marry her cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam or choose her heart and marry Mr. Alveston.

I enjoyed it. Ms. James keeps the language and humor of the original novel, utilizing many of the leading characters while keeping the reader engaged in the mystery.

Taking the reins from Colin Firth, Matthew Rhys is a more mature Darcy who is deeply in love with his wife and aware of the responsibility of his station. Anna Maxwell Martin as Elizabeth is a lively and outgoing as she is in the original novel, but with the experience of marriage, motherhood, as well as sharing the responsibility of running the estate.  Lydia (Jenna Coleman) and Wickham (Matthew Goode), as Mr. and Mrs. Bennet (James Fleet and Rebecca Front) are as they are in original novel.

I enjoyed both the book and the miniseries and I look forward to seeing it when it airs on PBS next month.

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Books, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Reviews