Okay, I’m just gonna say it. If you’re a fan of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, you might want to avoid Netflix’s new adaptation. Whoever wrote it decided to have the main character (played by Dakota Johnson) speak directly into the camera. Even with an English accent, she just doesn’t capture the tortured inner life of Anne Elliot. She’s entirely too upbeat and bubbly.
For those of you who don’t know the story, here’s a brief synopsis:
- Boy and girl meet and fall in love
- Girl is “persuaded” not to accept boy’s proposal (usual reasons: lack of money, social status)
- Boy goes to sea, makes a fortune and returns
Girl, meanwhile, has been treated as person of little consequence by her vain and silly relatives and, at age twenty-seven, is considered a spinster with few prospects.
In her earlier novels, Austen’s protagonists snidely mocked the societal norms that forced women to marry or live a life dependent on the kindness of relatives. But the mocking was never in anger; just frustration. In Persuasion, Austen took the gloves off. Vain and silly characters are no longer also lovable. They’re just vain and silly people who cause pain to others.
In the book, when Anne Elliot feels sorry for herself, she takes a long walk. In the movie, she drinks. I’ll have to reread the books because I can’t remember an Austen heroine ever dragging a bottle upstairs to bed and getting snookered. But it has been a while. Do y’all recall any drunken Austen heroines?
And let’s discuss Captain Wentworth, the jilted lover, the man deemed not worthy to marry into the Elliot family. Having returned a wealthy sea captain, why would he ever settle for the aging spinster who’d already rejected him? In the book, he shows little sign of his true feelings. He’s a proper English gentleman. So we agonize with poor Anne. Will he forgive her and see that she is the only woman for him?
In the Netflix adaptation. Sigh. Have you seen Dakota Johnson, friends? Poor Captain Wentworth can’t help drooling all over himself every time he sees her. Stiff upper lip, hurt pride be damned. It’s only a matter of time, misunderstandings, and miscommunications until he finally admits, his goose is cooked.
Supposedly there are fifteen animals hidden in this picture.
But if you’re looking for a lighthearted though predictable romance, set in the beautiful countryside of Southern England, ignore me and enjoy the show!