So here are my initial, scattered reactions to the new adaptation of Persuasion on Masterpiece Theatre (or should I stop being stubborn and adopt the new name Masterpiece Classic? Anyone know why they changed it?)
- I was driven to distraction by Gillian Anderson's hair being parted in the middle. I'm so used to seeing her with 'Scully hair' that I couldn't pay attention to what she was saying.
- The leads, Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones, totally sold it. I thought Ms. Hawkins especially did an amazing job of capturing the character of Anne Elliott, focusing on her sacrifice(s) without being maudlin about it.
- I liked the way the director and the actors, especially Anthony Head (Giles, for any Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans) did an excellent job of capturing the viciousness of Anne's family. People are prone to protraying Sir Elliott, Elizabeth, and Mary as silly, which they are, but in focusing on the foolishness, they overlook how truly cruel they are to Anne and others. I think that is one of the greatest strengths about this adaptation.
- I understand needing to mess with timelines and speed things up when adapting a novel for the screen, but to completely disorder the entire denouement short-changes how wonderful Austen's plotting is in the book.
- I have read Persuasion many times; it is my favorite Austen novel. However, I never in any of my many readings got the implication that Mr. Elliot planned in ANY way to make Mrs. Clay his mistress. I think that part of the adaptation drove me the most nuts. Harriet Smith is declaring Mr. Elliot's sins to the whole of Camden Place, completely shoe-horned into the ending, just so the audience could know how vile he is. That part of the scene took me out of the film so totally, I couldn't concentrate on the rest of the it.
- Kiss her already, you moron! Seriously, it was on the verge of becoming embarrassingly cruel to watch her wait for it so long. Honestly!
- I'm ambivalent about the adaptation insinuating Captain Wentworth bought Kellynch Hall as a wedding present. Unless I'm wrong and he just took over the lease from his sister and brother-in-law. That explanation works for me much better. I think I'll go with it.
- I think this did an excellent job of introducing Austen neophytes to the book, but I think the 1995 adaptation with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds is a more faithful adaptation and, therefore, more enjoyable to those who already love the book.
- All you lovers of lush, literary adaptations and/or British men have to check out this link from the Masterpiece Classic website: The Men of Austen. It cracked me up. Although knowing what their fortune is worth in today's economy is quite helpful. I think my heart still belongs to Mr. Thornton, however. Captain Wentworth runs a close second. Followed by Mr. Darcy, Edward Ferrars, and Mr. Knightly rounding out my top 5 literary crushes. If you were curious.