All the acting is stellar; I can't really identify a bad performance. Ciaran Hines especially shines as the warm but reserved Captain Wentworth.
Of all the Jane Austen adaptations (except "Pride and Prejudice") I believe "Persuasion" is the truest to the time period. The characters act within the conventions of regency England and seem to be comfortable doing so.
I would recommend this movie to any Jane Austen lover or a person who enjoys period films or classic literature. A person who does not fall into those categories might enjoy it as well, but is likely to find it slow and difficult to understand.
There isn't a false move in the entire enterprise. The casting is perfect and the performances flawless.
Special kudos to Amanda Root's brilliant, subtle performance as the heroine Anne Elliot. Ciaran Hinds, as Captain Wentworth, is virile, handsome and highly attractive as the lonely sea-farer come to land after years of fighting in the Napolianic wars.
Not only is this a ripping love story it is imbued with great humor and pathos as well.
There is nothing "high-fallutin'" about it either. Not for one instant does the nasty face of preciosity enter in. The film speaks TO the viewer not at him from a high place.
There are some brilliant vignettes, notably in the person of Cinnamon Faye as the honorable Miss Carteret. She doesn't have a single word to utter but in her facial mannerisms conveys a hilarious portrayal of the empty-headed daughter of the nasty Viscountess Dalrymple. Only in the very last scene does Ms Faye utter and that is simply to emit the silliest sneeze I've ever heard. One of the brilliant and rare moments of exquisite comedy to be seen in a film.
Other standouts in the cast are John Woodvine and Fiona Shaw as the Admiral and his devoted wife. Sophie Thompson turns in a wonderful performance as the ever-whining, obnoxious younger sister, Mary, who, along with the elder Elliot daughter, Elizabeth, burden the long-suffering Anne with their uselessness. Phoebe Nicholls, of Brideshead Revisted fame (she was Sebastian Flyte's youngest sister Cordelia) contributes yet another wonderful performance in her career, as the ill-tempered Elizabeth, ultimately conveying the tragedy of the burgeoning spinster in the last scene.
Even if great literary classics aren't your "bag" don't miss this minor masterpiece if you happen to love great film-making.
The film's events converge on the time Napoleon has been banished to Elba and the Battle of Waterloo of 1815 is still a year away. Among the servicemen returning home is Captain Frederick Wentworth (Ciaran Hinds) who has been at sea for eight years since Anne Elliot's (Amanda Root) rejection of his marriage proposal. The Captain is now a man of prosperity and social rank while his former nineteen-year-old love interest has matured into a faded and thin' old maid of twenty-seven in service to her family. Anne has lived to regret her mistake in being persuaded by her friend and patroness, Lady Russell (Susan Fleetwood, `Heat and Dust', who sadly died the year `Persuasion' was released), to refuse Wentworth as a man of unsuitable temperament. Whilst his affection would now seem to be directed towards her brother-in-law's sister, Louisa Musgrove (Emma Roberts), Anne's only romantic hope lies in the dubious and underhand attentions of her cousin William Elliot (an obsequious Samuel West, who was memorably the ill-fated Leonard Bast in `Howards End'). However, the accident on the Cobb at Lyme Regis requires Anne's sensible advice on how to handle the crisis and eventually leads to a second chance for her. Incidentally the Cobb was to play another starring role in John Fowles' `The French Lieutenant's Woman', with Karel Reisz' 1981 dramatic movie version embellishing it with a strikingly cloaked Meryl Streep braving the elements, ensuring that it will remain a tourist attraction in perpetuity.
Ostensibly with concern over the intellectual inequality of Captain Benwick's sudden attachment to Louisa after the accident, Captain Wentworth makes the impassioned declaration to Anne regarding his friend's broken hearted loss of his fiancee: `A man does not recover from such a devotion to such a woman, he ought not, he does not', but is patently reflecting on his own lasting strong feelings for Anne. Surely it is wiser to recognise when adoration for one person is no longer appropriate and a chance may lie with someone else. The supposed difference between the sexes regarding fidelity is discussed with Jane Austen adding the comment to her argument that the authors who view women as more fickle, have all been men. This last remark in the film is rather improbably but modernly given to Anne, who also makes the bold claim for her sex that it is capable of `loving longest when all hope is gone.' It is not a question of gender but of genetic makeup and whether you are truly monogamous, as Western religions and society would decree us to be, or true to yourself.
Although comfortable, life must have been dreadfully dull at times for the women in this world who could not relieve their tedium as their menfolk would by going off to war. This observation is endorsed by the couple of scenes depicting a concert and an evening of card playing, tinged with amber candle light infusing gentle nostalgic warmth to the proceedings which is at odds with the atmosphere of bored ritualistic entertainment. The different levels of lighting are used to subtle effect here and contrast with the cold glare of Ang Lee's brilliantly lit interiors in his working of Austen's first novel `Sense and Sensibility', also produced in the same year.
Amanda Root (`Mortimer's Law', and as Fanny Price, another of Austen's independent women, in `Mansfield Park' for BBC Radio 4) is brilliant as the quiet understated heroine with luminosity to her face that beautifully transcribes the full gamut of emotions she experiences from servitude to the blossoming of love. Her co-star, Ciaran Hinds (`The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover') is equally gifted of expression, with a barely repressed anger and resentment towards Anne, under the guise of curt civility that eventually he is forced to recognise masks his continuing passion for her. Interestingly over the next two years both leads went onto appear in different versions of Jane Eyre, with Amanda Root well cast as the kindly schoolteacher Miss Temple in Franco Zeffirelli's 1996 version and Ciaran Hinds as a suitably anguished Mr Rochester in Robert Young's 1997 TV adaptation.
Jane Austen's fable may be recognised as the classic fairy tale of Cinderella, of a good hearted and dutiful daughter put upon by her foolish and snobbish father and cruel sisters, but who is eventually saved by her true prince. With great effect, the author adds to the romance her wit and sense of humour to explore the characteristics of the genteel world she lived in with all its human frailties. Nick Dear's screenplay, together with Roger Michell's necessarily less frantic direction than in `Notting Hill', adroitly captures the essence of Austen's narrative to provide one of the finest visual interpretations of her work. Strong supporting performances are also given by the ensemble of Corin Redgrave (`Enigma') as the supercilious father; Sophie Thompson (`Emma') and Phoebe Nicholls (`The Elephant Man') as the far from ugly sisters of hypochondriac Mary and haughty Elizabeth; and Fiona Shaw (`Jane Eyre') and John Woodvine (`Wuthering Heights') as the companionable Crofts.
Obviously complying with its `Beautiful People' culture the original cover of the American video version replaced the demure leads with two glamorous models, as a spokeswoman for Columbia Tristar in California has said, `I guess to make it a little more seductive to us over here'. Nonetheless, it is pleasing to read that this film was well received in the States especially as it remained true to its British identity, and therefore set an exemplary standard in not pandering to an anticipated overseas market by using well-known international stars.
The casting was inspired and utterly believable in this wondrous adaptation. I never tire of Ciaran Hinds, there seems to be so many layers in what he brings to his far too infrequent roles in films. I believe he is mainly a stage actor.
The story bears truth to Jane Austen's original work, and I am a long time fan of Austen.
Amanda is not glamorous in her role of Anne Elliot. But her truth and honour stand steady in the ebb and flow of the values, minor complaints and minutiae of her family life. It is clear from the beginning that she is the one with all the missing qualities in the others.
Fiona Shaw also captivates in the role of Mrs. Croft who strikes out in a completely different kind of lifestyle for the era, sailing the seven seas with her husband and sharing his adventures.
8 out 10. Well done to all concerned.
The photography in this film is extraordinary as are all the performances. Colin Redgrave is fabulous as Anne's father, a sniveling social climber, and Samuel West as the seedy relative who tries to get back in the families good graces to make sure that his fortunes are preserved. The actresses playing Anne's two sisters also do a praise worthy job.
I recommend this film highly even if you aren't an Austin fan.
The music is done perfectly - it doesn't overpower or ever impose interpretation, instead it is just enough to maintain focus on the story. And I love the understated nature of the characters. It is easy to spot the hypocrites, but you can see why they are the way they are. It would be very easy to make Mr. Eliot into a simpering, unctious idiot - instead, he is played as a gentleman. It makes Anne a better character, and it makes the movie a better experience.
I also especially enjoyed Corin Redgrave's portrayal of the supercilious and shallow Sir Walter.
I enjoyed the look the 'available light' cinematography gives the film. Once again it was very natural.
The choice of actors made the characters look real and believable. and the choice of soundtrack was subtle and period appropriate.
This film is superbly produced and directed, yet does not look like Hollywood. It is a truly refreshing change. This is one I will watch again and again.
This seems to be the case in most of the films, a la the famous combination of Merchant-Ivory. While this isn't that duo, it's still a decent version of this famous story.
What's different about this is the leading actress: Amanda Root, who plays "Anne Elliot." In America, this is not a lady whom we are familiar with, so she was a new "face" for me, as well. I liked her. I've heard criticism of her looks. You don't have to be glamorous to be accepted as a fine female actor. She was excellent in her role and just the looks on her face, particularly the sad looks, spoke more "volumes" than any dialog could manage.
The greatest thing about this movie is that it gets better every time you see it. Amanda Root's soulful eyes become even more affecting, Ciarin whatshisname becomes more handsome and likeable, and the annoying hypochondriac sister becomes more hilarious (if that's possible, which in this movie, it is!).
I know this review is very vague. Suffice it to say, I've seen this movie a dozen times and I can't wait to see it a dozen more times.
Definitely my favorite Jane Austen movie.
Maybe it is too exaggerate to say that Hinds is the perfect Wentworth, he is exactly the way one imagines it when one reads the book: He is intelligent, a bit rough but with a tender heart, tall, robust.
Anyway, anyone who love Austen's "Persuasion" should know that there's a very good movie out there that they should watch... this one.
Amanda Root, is perfect as Anne Elliot, the down to earth woman at the center of the story. Ciaran Hands is a virile presence that plays well in the story. Their romance is seen coming all through the proceedings and their love seems to be real.
Corin Redgrave is perfect as Sri Walter Elliot, the fatuous man who was impressed with money and power. Susan Fleetwood has some excellent moments as the kind Lady Russell. Fiona Shaw is perfect as Mrs. Croft and Samuel West excels at his portrayal of the impoverished Elliot cousin.
Ultimately, the production has a great view because it was filmed in the area that is described in the book. The beautiful city of Bath is seen in glorious exteriors.
Recommended to all Jane Austen's fans because the beautiful job Roger Michell did in bringing the novel to the screen.
The acting is superb all the way around. Amanda Root (Anne) and Ciaran Hinds (Wentworth) are terrific. My favorite supporting players must be John Woodvine (Adm. Croft) and Fiona Shaw (Mrs. Croft).
I particularly enjoy the natural lighting used in the film. The movie lacks the fairy-tale air that many Austen adaptations carry -- it seems more immediate, more real.
I also enjoyed the music -- not the usual English parlor period tunes, but those suited to the energies of the film.
Every adaptation has its flaws, and I guess I should just get them out of the way beforehand. This film contains one big historical error! The sailors often go about in their naval uniforms. While this looks really nice on screen, it is actually not accurate. As we know from Mansfield Park, these uniforms could only be seen while the officers were on duty. Probably most casual viewers wouldn't know this and it's cool to see them though. Another issue that doesn't really bother me in particular is the somewhat lacking exposition. I feel a little bit, that this movie was written with book fans in mind. If you weren't already familiar with the story, you might find it a bit confusing, especially in the beginning, what was going on between Anne and Wentworth. As I said, I had no problem following anything but since I had already read the book that doesn't really mean much.
The casting is admittedly not perfect. Many of the actors are a bit too old, but nothing jarring like in 1971. Their brilliant performances more than made up for this- with one big exception- Phoebe Nicholls as Elizabeth Elliot was way over the top.
Both the canceled and actual ending of the book were used. Some liked the addition, but I could take it or leave it, personally. Some of the other changes from the book may have worked as just a movie, but were lacking for me as an adaptation. Actually, I can say that about pretty much everything- there's nearly nothing in this movie that I don't like as just a movie.
Before I say again how much I love this movie (I ended up rewatching it 3 times!), I remembered another scene that bothered me. Anne is taken to Upper Cross in a farmer's cart instead of Lady Russell's carriage. Really? That was stretching it quite a bit. I know Sir Walter doesn't pay much attention to her, but he would never allow his daughter to be seen traveling in that way! And Lady Russell would never have allowed it! She couldn't spare her carriage to go 3 miles away?? All in all, admittedly, this movie is not perfect. But it's still a darn good movie and it's the closest to perfection any of the adaptations of Persuasion have gotten so far.
Well acted and well made.
An excellent ensemble.
What is fascinating is being able to see how very many of the story elements in Emma, Mansfield Park, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibilty re-occur here as well and perhaps even more clearly.
My only regret is that it is not longer. I was enjoying this world and it ended all too soon. But, on the other hand it told the story well and there was really no need to go into more detail.
2) The musical score. So many Jane Austen adaptations use an orchestral score. This one sticks to simple piano accompaniment and it works very well indeed.
3) The supporting cast. A lot of the supporting characters really come to life, thanks to excellent ensemble playing from the likes of Susan Fleetwood as Lady Russell, Robert Glenister as Captain Harville, Fiona Shaw as Mrs Croft and Simon Russell Beale as Charles Musgrove.
All the performances are lovely, especially the heart-breaking Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds, whose repressed hurt and anger are simmering beneath the surface as Captain Wentworth. Great piece of work, which I watch whenever I'm down, or tired or can't sleep.