If I were to rank Jane Austen‘s novels, Persuasion would be on the top of my list. This story of second chances is one that over 200 years later still hits readers in the heart and sends a few tears down our cheeks.
The film stars Dakota Johnson as Anne Elliot, Cosmo Jarvis as Captain Frederick Wentworth, and Henry Golding as Mr. Elliot. For those unaware, the plot is as follows: eight years before the book starts Anne Elliott and Frederick Wentworth were young, in love, and newly engaged. She was persuaded to end their relationship due to his lack of status and income. Cut to the present and Anne is still single, still hurting from her decision. Wentworth is back in her life. He is a war hero, wealthy, and considered to be a catch. He is also still bitter from their breakup.
I would love to say that I am jumping for joy, but I have a few reservations. I am going to try to keep my concerns at bay because this is only the trailer. Trailers don’t always match up with the full movie.
The dialogue in the scenes that we see so far seems to be loosely taken from the original text. Maybe it’s the Janeite in me, but I would prefer the wording to be as it is in the novel. To paraphrase her brilliant writing (especially in a reboot set in the Regency era) could be seen as a shanda (disgrace).
The casting of Dakota Johnson as Anne. I have nothing against Johnson. I have a bias against American actors playing lead characters in Austen adaptations. It goes back to the casting of Gwyneth Paltrow in the 1996 Emma. Her portrayal of the character rubbed me the wrong way. But who knows, maybe Johnson will prove me wrong.
Her hair should not be down unless it is either the beginning or the end of the day. Only young girls wore their hair loose. By the time they got to their mid to late teens, their hair was up. On a side note, that was my only beef with Sanditon. Charlotte Heywood’s (Rose Williams) hair should have been up.
It comes off a little too rom-com-like. I like a romantic comedy as much as the next person, but Persuasion is not and has never been one. To turn this story into a rom-com is a double shanda and sure to turn off the fanbase.
On the upside, we see the early romance between Anne and Frederick. In previous film versions, the audience is only told about this experience.
That being said, I am willing to have an open mind and not condemn the film before it is released.
After heartbreak, the obvious thing would be to bury your head in the sand and pretend that nothing is wrong. But at a certain point, we have to make a decision as to whether we want to move on or let that heartbreak control us.
In the 1998 rom-com, Hope Floats, Birdie Pruitt (Sandra Bullock) is a former beauty queen whose husband has just revealed on national TV that he is cheating on her. Once the divorce papers are signed, Birdie moves back to her hometown with her daughter Bernice (Mae Whitman). Facing the gossip mongers and former classmates who are loving her public downfall, she runs into an old friend. Justin Matisse (Harry Connick Jr.) has had a thing for Birdie for years and has yet to verbalize his feelings.
As they spend more time together and Birdie starts to open up, she starts to see the possibility of where this relationship could go. But before they can go from platonic to romantic, she has Bernice to consider. Will Birdie be able to date again while being the mother her daughter needs or will she remain in the cocoon of what was?
I really like this movie. It’s a classic 1990’s Sandra Bullock romantic comedy. Though we know how the story will eventually end, I find this film to be charming, entertaining, and deeper than others within the genre.
Love has a way of making us feel insecure. The question is if we have the courage to tell the one we love how we feel?
The 1987 movie, Roxanne, is a rom-com adapation of Cyrano de Bergerac. C.D. Bales (Steve Martin) is the fire chief in a small town. Known for his extraordinarily large nose, he likes to crack jokes about it. Behind the smartass one-liners are insecurity and fear of rejection. When astronomy student Roxanne (Daryl Hannah) enters his life, D.C. falls hard and fast for her.
Afraid that she will mock him, he uses newbie firefighter and pretty boy Chris (Rick Rossovich) as a conduit to express his feelings. Roxanne believes that Chris and the man behind the letters she has been receiving are one and the same. C.D. knows that he will have to be real with Roxanne, but will she feel the same?
This film is classic Steve Martin. Behind the humor is heart and a deep well of emotion that makes this classic tale feel both timeless and forever modern.
My only issue is that Hannah’s character is sexualized early on in the movie. I understand that this narrative is over a century old. The norms in 1897 are not the norms of today. I appreciate that she was given some depth as a character. But I feel like the scene in which she is appearing to be naked pushes her backward towards a typical female character whose only task is to be the love interest without having agency or a narrative of her own.
I also have to realize that the film is over 30 years old. Though Hollywood has not completely shaken off the idea of limiting women both on and off-screen, the celluloid glass ceiling has been cracked considerably since then.
*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.
*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series The Nanny. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. Every rom-com heroine needs a best friend to bounce off. On The Nanny, Fran Fine‘s (Fran Drescher) best friend is Valerie Toriello (Rachel Chagall).
The Ethel to Fran’s Lucy, Val is as loyal as a bestie can be, but she is not the brightest bulb in the box. On the occasion that they have a disagreement, Fran knows that the best tool in her toolbox is Val’s lack of intelligence. Both perennially single, they sometime get together with C.C. Babcock (Lauren Lane) and make a promise (which never comes to fruition) to stop looking for a man. At the end of the series, Val is the bridesmaid at Fran’s wedding to Maxwell Sheffield (Charles Shaughnessy). She and her boyfriend are also expecting their first child.
To sum it up: The best relationships, whether they are romantic or friends, have yin/yang feel to it. What one person lacks, the other has and visa versa. Fran and Val work are believable as friends because they have this balance and knowledge of each other that is organic and natural. Val is also not just a copy of Fran, allowing her to stand on her two two feet.
Which is why she is a memorable character.
P.S. It takes a smart actor to play a dumb character. Chagall is clearly one smart cookie.
When it comes to love and romance, it has been said that opposites attract. However, that does not mean that compromise and putting in the hard work to make the relationship last can be put aside.
In the 1997 romantic comedyFools Rush In, Alex Whitman (Matthew Perry) and Isabel Fuentes (Salma Hayek) are as mismatched a couple as you can get. Fate brings them together in Las Vegas. Three weeks after a one night stand, Isabel discovers that she is pregnant. Before they know it, Alex and Isabel are married. The ceremony was the easy part. Now they have to learn to live with each other and get along with their new in-laws. Which as many married couples may tell you, is a battle in and of itself.
This movie is cute. It is the type of rom-com I would watch on a day that I needed to relax and get out my head for a little while. The comedy is also helped by the cultural differences between the main characters. It would be easy to present Alex as a typical uptight suburban white guy and Isabel as a saucy and spicy Latina. While the stereotypes are there, they are merely the backbone of who Alex and Isabel are. They are given ample room to grow well beyond the expectations the audience has for who they are and where their story will go.
Dating, as we know it to be, is not as simple as it appears. Though some may find their potential love/spouse/life partner early on, others have to go through several relationships before finding that person.
Soon By You premiered in 2016. Taking place in New York City, it is sort of an Modern Orthodox Jewish version of Friends. The series follows a group of twenty somethings who are trying to find their bashert (soulmate) while juggling every other aspect of life.
Written by Leah Gottfried (who is also the series’ director), Danny Hoffman, and Uri Westrich, this YouTube web series is charming and entertaining. While it uses the rom-com narrative tropes and characters are used as the backbone, they are flipped in a way that does not feel predictable or boring.
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.”
For two centuries, writers have tried to capture the magic in Jane Austen‘s novels. She is one of those authors whose writing seems easy to replicate. But, upon further inspection, the discovery often is that it is much more difficult than it seems to be.
Yesterday, the trailer for Modern Persuasionwas released. It is basically the modern rom-com version of Persuasion. Playing the 21st century Anne Elliott and Captain Frederick Wentworth are Alicia Witt and Shane McRae.
I’m willing to give this movie a shot. However, two things immediately come to mind. The first is that the title feels incredibly lazy. It’s as if it was the working title for the first draft of the screenplay that the writers didn’t bother changing. It is possible to create a modern Jane Austen adaptation and be creative with the title.
The second is that based strictly on the trailer, it feels like the standard romantic comedy. Granted, the trailer is not the move in its entirety. But, the only initial connection so far that the film is based on an Austen novel is the mention of the Laconia (scroll down to the bottom of the page in the link for the reference).
Only time will tell if the film is a success or a failure. Either way, it will be a point of contention for the Janeite community for years to come.
I'm a retiree in his seventies. That may not be significant to many, since there is a bunch of us Baby Boomers around. However, in the year 2,000, when I received a diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma, I expected to be dead in three to five years.