After rereading Persuasion, I was temporarily sidetracked (as you can tell) by the appearance of Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre adaption online. However, I haven’t forgotten my promise to continue my Persuasion week. After the review of the novel, I left you with a taste of its newest adaption. There are two other adaptions as well that may or may not be reviewed (I haven’t decided yet) depending on how I feel after revisiting them. I’ve revisited the 2007 for the second time now and since it is, after all, the version that I referred you to, I think it only fair to review it for you.
I don’t think that any of you need a recap of the plot, so in order to save time I think I’ll just plunge headfirst into the review of the movie (if I may call it such). The 2007 is a healthy two hour adaption starring Sally Hawkins as Miss Elliot, the twenty-seven year old destined for spinsterhood and Rupert Penry-Jones as the handsome and passionate Captain Wentworth.
Whenever I watch an adaptation of Persuasion I really like to focus on the two leads. If they aren’t casted correctly, then why does the rest even matter? The story is basically built around the chemistry between the two. Fortunately, I didn’t have to worry about a lack thereof. Sally Hawkins was a great (though I’m sure perhaps a little older) Anne Elliot and Rupert nailed my image of the look and manner of Captain Wentworth.
Here I might add that I’m glad I saw Persuasion before I saw Jane Eyre. I remember watching the ’06 version of Jane Eyre and then somehow stumbling on the early adaptation of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and all I could think about when watching Tara Fitzgerald on screen was “MRS. REED!” Thankfully, I saw Sally Hawkins as the humbly charitable Miss Elliot before she turned into the heartless female dog that ruined Jane Eyre’s childhood.
Sally Hawkins played Anne Elliot just the way I had imagined her. Though she is mature in many aspects, she is always unsure of herself. After allowing herself to be persuaded by Lady Russell when she is nineteen, Anne’s confidence is seriously shaken. It only gets worse as her beauty declines and her age increases. Though she’s quick to take control in meeting the needs of others, she isn’t assertive enough to put her foot down and take care of herself. Sally captured that timidity better than I expected her to. It’s often hard for older women to play girlishly bashful characters.
Oh, Captain Wentworth! Don’t we all want one? He seems to be the perfect male lit hero. He has all the essentials. Who could do justice to this handsome, ardent, rather embittered, and yet gentle character? Rupert Penry-Jones, that’s who! Every once in a while you find an actor that fits his character SO well that you feel a sense of sameness. For example, Richard Armitage IS John Thornton. Colin Firth IS Darcy. Gregory Peck IS Atticus Finch. These are the actors that inhabit their roles so fully that we can’t separate them from the people they play. Now I add Rupert to that list, because he IS Captain Wentworth. (That statement is always open for discussion because I know some people are probably shaking their heads.)
The chemistry between Sally’s Anne and Rupert’s Wentworth was palpable without them even touching. I don’t remember a lot of physical contact in this adaption, but I remember passionate gazes, intense stares, and subtle glimpses between the two characters that made my heart leap.
With all that emotional chemistry, one might think that the first kiss would send fireworks. In my opinion it was quite the contrary. The kiss (to my surprise and distress) was at first an immediate negative. If any of you have seen it, it took forever! We see every tremble and movement of Sally’s mouth (not in a disgusting way) and this blatant passion, yet she withholds the kiss for so long! Such was my first impression when watching the adaption. Since, I have taken a different view. The point of the kiss was that it “took so long.” It stood to symbolize the constancy of Anne and Wentworth’s affection. They have been separated eight years, and now they are finally coming to this kiss. They are savoring the moment, reflecting on the many years it took them to get to where they are. Once you appreciate their struggle the kiss seems to fit perfectly into their story.
Sally and Rupert created a solid core for the movie, and everything else fell in place around them just as it should. The screenplay was done beautifully, preserving all the dialogue from the novel but managing to add an original flavor to suit a modern audience. The plot flows smoothly with perfect pacing. What’s not to like?