By The Pleasant Times Movie Critic, Miss dePoint
Bracing myself to watch a new adaption of a favorite book (which in my mind had already been done quite well in movie form a few years ago), and sure that I would cringe through it all, I watched the newest Sense and Sensibility movie. I must say, I did not expect to enjoy it so much! I was quite pleased that this movie had more from the book. I would gladly watch it again, indeed, I want to!
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And now for the the deficiencies of this movie. I do not have time to write of all that is wrong with it, but will settle on a few things. If only they had consulted me first!
Where shall I begin? At the beginning I think: If you have not seen it yet, fast forward the first 5 or ten minutes. It was completely unnecessary. We aren't supposed to know how much of a cad Willoughby is at the start anyway.
I really lament that the filmmakers threw away a golden opportunity to make something different out of this film. Throughout the whole thing I could see that they obviously thought that since the last movie was done so well (the Emma Thomson version) that they would just copy that one in a lot of the scenes. I thought that such a pity! Let me give you a few for-instances:
In the Emma Thompson movie, John and Fanny Dashwood spend their journey to Norland reducing the amount of help they will give to the girls. Ditto in this movie. In the book, this conversation may have happened after they were already there, and did not occur in a carriage, and therefore I would think it is open for the filmmakers' creativity. At least, don't imitate the last film so accurately!
Elinor's conversation with Edward, telling him of Col. Brandon's offer, looked like they were imitating the other film in style and setting.
Elinor running in a huge sob from the room when Edward is about to propose-- I wish they would leave that out. I know Jane Austen put something like it in the book but I haven't seen a convincing sob in these movies, though I have to say that the crying in other scenes seemed closer to normal than in the other S&S.
Then there are the added scenes, too numerous to mention, that were not in the book and didn't make sense to me: the rug-beating and the wood chopping stand out the most as being very odd for high-bred rich people to do. I could understand if Elinor was beating rugs at the cottage, though, but not at Norland. Doesn't it remind you of Cinderella? The evil step-sister, Fanny, turning the girls into servants...
I watched this movie with two companions, one who fell asleep and the other who only stayed a few minutes, finding more pressing duties to attend to. Not a good sign, I suppose!
Here again, as in the some of the newer films that I have recently reviewed, I have to comment on the heavy breathing. My movie-watching companion (the one who was bored to sleep) commented that she could not even hear herself or anyone around her breathing that loud. Is this a new thing-- to put microphones in the actors' mouths?
Some of the camera work I think was odd, but overall I appreciated the brightness in this film, when it seemed that most of it was under rainy looking skies, and it could have been terribly dark all the way through. Some of the lighting was very natural looking. My companion disliked the low quality look of the film, however.
There were some scenes that were so badly done I wonder how they made it into the film. One in particular made me laugh out loud-- when Marianne and Elinor are on the cliffs looking out over the sea, and Marianne is telling how she has changed-- their dresses are billowing in the wind so oddly, they look like lobsters!
Now for the characters: My friend pointed out that Elinor sounded just like Emma Thompson. True, but that was where the similarity ended for me. I liked this Elinor MUCH better. She perhaps has not attained to the high quality of acting as more practiced actresses (I could tell a lot of the characters were acting, as opposed to being fooled into thinking this was all real, which movies are supposed to do!) but I enjoyed all of her scenes and would like to see the film again on her account. I disliked her striped dresses though.
I did not like the mother. In the book, she was supposed to be charming, and a lot like Marriane. This woman was stiff, and said things in a near-monotone.
Margaret was destined to be a sweet and innocently charming character, if they had but left off her nasty rudeness at Norland and resisted turning her into a little feminist at the end of the film.
Marianne was one of those people that gave me that feeling, "where have I seen her before?" Not on screen, mind you, but I think I have met someone that looks like her, and spent some time in her company, maybe at a tea party? If you look like this Marriane and know me, make sure to remind who you are! This actress made a good Marianne, though I have a few complaints about what the filmmakers did with her: The color combinations of her country day dresses, her limited piano repertoire, and also she warmed up to Col. Brandon too quickly after her disappointment with Willoughby. It was obvious that she falls in love with whoever picks her up and carries her through the rain (which by the way Col. Brandon did not do in the book).
Ah, Willoughby. We shall always regret that they cast this particular fellow for this part. He should have been saved for another film, perhaps to play Napoleon Bonaparte.
He was too creepy from the get-go. How could she fall for him? He wasn't even handsome!
And I was disappointed in Edward. They tried to find a Hugh Grant-look-alike and though he had more lines, I have a feeling he was there because of his looks and not his acting. He didn't seem quite the right fit for this Elinor, in my mind. But of course, I am quite biased, as I didn't care for this character in the book too much, either!
I did like Col. Brandon, against my expectations. Anyone who has a family member who is an English Major has probably seen "Our Mutual Friend," in which this actor plays the horrid "schoolmaster Headstone." I was really glad I could see this actor in a completely different role. It must be awful to play a villain so well, that when people see your face, they involuntarily shudder. Now we can all see him play a nice guy, and I thought that he was an excellent Col. Brandon, much much better than Alan Rickman's Col. Brandon. This one only needed a haircut.
As for the other characters: I was glad to see they did not leave everyone out that was in the book. I enjoyed Lucy Steele's sister, who was a good support for Lucy's character. John and Fanny did look like the last John and Fanny (a great pity) but at least this time they had little Harry along! Sir John. Mrs. Jennings, Charlotte and Mr. Palmer could have all been improved upon. And so could Lady Middleton's hair style.
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And now for
Favorite lines: None so far. I was hoping to see my favorite line in this film, when John and Fanny are reducing the amount of money he hoped to give to his sisters. He is thinking about giving his step-mother an annuity. Fanny says it is better than parting with all the money at once, but says that if Mrs. Dashwood "lives another fifteen years, we shall be completely taken in." John replies,
"Fifteen years! My dear Fanny; her life cannot be worth half that purchase."
Favorite Scenes: I like the one of Elinor buying the fish, in the last half hour or so. Very pretty, like an old-fashioned painting. I also liked the scenes in the girls' room, when I could hear the ocean so clearly. And the last scene, when we see that Elinor and Edward have set up housekeeping in a little cottage with some chickens!
Least Favorite Scenes: Anything with Willoughby in it; and the lobster-backed dresses scene mentioned above.
Wish they had included: The rivalry between Lady Middleton and Fanny regarding their sons.
The Miss Steeles trying bravely to get into Lady Middleton's good graces by appeasing her spoilt children.
Mrs. Jennings overhearing little bits of Col. Brandon's conversation with Elinor about giving Edward a living, and thinking that Col. Brandon is proposing to Elinor!
Mrs. Jennings nursing Marriane back to health. I thought it was a really neat trick to take someone so annoying and make the reader soften towards them, and see their good heart.
Who would I like to invite to Tea? Elinor!