My live thoughts while watching Netflix’s Movie Fic of Persuasion by Jane Austen:
What is going on in this opening?? Why are they so close? Is this when she broke it off?
I guess the voice over helps set the scenes? Cuz Netflix wants a quick exposition
“Shame there wasn’t anything nice we could think to add about you, Anne…I wanted to leave you out entirely but Daddy thought people might think you had died.” Ok so Elizabeth is really leaning into the whole ‘who needs Anne anyways’ aspect here. A bit rude tho
Diversity points for casting I guess [edit: visual racial diversity]
“What good is anything if you have to earn it?” Ok, Sir Walter also leaning into his snobbishness, also ruder than I remember
THEY REMEMBERED THE WRONG BROTHER
Dakota Johnson’s hair bangs are annoying me and I’m not even 10 minutes in
Did she have a box full of stuff in the book?!? I don’t remember that at all.
SHE SHOULD HAVE NO HOPE FOR WENTWORTH (to admit to) AT THIS POINT
Mrs Clay’s use of numbers brought me completely out of the story
Good scene of them leaving for Bath with out Anne (until the fourth wall break)
Just realized: no one mentioned a lack of children makes a wife the best tenant
Mrs Croft speaks of her trips early (also why is Anne there to greet them??)
The script is dropping a lot of “hope” but not any “agony” (edit: there was no more dropping after this)
Mary doesn’t know about Captain Wentworth
Why is Louisa pushing Anne towards Wentworth?
Is ‘Empath’ even in the British Regency vocabulary?
Oh no the window scene
She did it *physically recoils*
Ew the gravy boat too
How are these houses so close? That had to be fake right? Anne only imagined yelling his Christian name across the way? Right?
Anne insults Captain Wentworth upon first re-meeting? That was so awkward. And wrong. I like the awkward silence of the book so much more
Ok musical chairs is so wrong. They have ASSIGNED SEATING and are there no servants to help Anne sit?
Wentworth is not as pretty as I had thought. I want my Blond Wentworth from 2007
Did she really just say ‘Charles wanted to marry me first’? That is so Not something Anne would ever say. Ever. I’m skipping this part.
Why is she upset with Mary for telling this ‘Blackbeard’ story? She literally just insulted her sisters Marriage the previous scene
Is Henrietta dancing with a servant?
Wentworth and Louisa dancing is supposed to channel PaP 05 right? No? Idc it’s weird
The “is this your chair” interaction would’ve been better screen time than the last four things I noted
Why is she begging him to love her? That is not what Anne does. She reflects that he must be moved on and silently tries to convince herself to be okay with that.
“Für Elise” was specific so I paused to google it; it was composed in 1810 but not published until being found in 1867–40 years after Beethoven died. Wikipedia
33 minutes in
After the conversation in the woods I really think they should have just made a modern adaptation of Persuasion. Same cast (they might even be more comfortable) practically the same script. (Tho Anne should still be Fixed.)
Anne is never rude to peoples faces
I honestly never noticed anyone picking up on the past between Anne and Captain Wentworth in the book. Why does everyone seem to Know?
Who is Henry Hayter?
“Households employing fewer than five servants…” blah blah.. and remind me, who helped Anne sit at dinner?
IS ANNE GOING TO THE BATHROOM ON SCREEN?!?
IS WENTWORTH INSULTING ANNE TO LOUISA? CALLING HWR PRODEFUL? ANBE ELLIOT SHOULD BE PURE KINDNESS AND ITS THE ADAPTATION THAT HAS TAKEN IT AWAY. Louisa should not be the one over here explaining and defending her relations like a girl wise beyond her years. That’s Anne’s job. And Wentworth could never call her Prideful.
If they had that conversation why did Anne have to blurt out at dinner about Charles wanting to marry her first?
Ok that fall was pretty nice for the Netflix movie fic
They ruined the carriage scene
Did they have “holiday” in Regency Britain?
I like Harville, a bit knowledgeable maybe, but I like him.
I wanted to like Bennick too but there wasn’t enough to form an opinion. It’s like he was just there for Anne’s monologues
Mr Elliot Speaks to Anne on First Encounter?!? Him. That scene was supposed to be my favorite part. The only source of hope from the trailer. I might need to reevaluate.
Captain Wentworth speaks to Anne?!? About Mr Elliot? And then about the last 8 years too? Naw, it’s too early! They need more yearning and ignoring. No “I want you in my life” Excuse me you’re not there yet Wentworth. You have to let Louisa almost die yet. Such horribly awkward conversation that does nothing for Jane Austen-again, just have a modern adaptation.
And here it comes:
“Now we’re worse than exes. We’re friends.” 58 minutes in.
I’d try to drown my Anne too if I made her say that.
I actually like what they did with Anne and Mr Elliot in Lyme (mostly) (and because of Henry Golding almost entirely)
“An American woman who nobody knew” why she gotta be American? Tho the add on about Sir Walter and the canapés? Nice. Ooc but funny.
This Louisa falling was actually my favorite of all the movies
The reaction/discussion there after? Not so much
Why is Wentworth telling Anne all this nonsense in the carriage? He needs to save it for off screen with Harville
Why do we care about Henry? Just so we can hear about people who love being a widow and don’t need a man?
And now Anne has called someone a “10”
“Don’t worry, darling he’s practicing on me.” OOC but funny
And they ruin it by having Mr Elliot tell Annewhy he’s in Bath (of a sort) He does not get to be so open about such matters.
I never thought that Anne Elliot got drunk enough for a hangover
I guess they had Anne be “deliberately dense” about the nobility for the benefit of the audience? Also they are estranged family not strangers
I do like the fly buzzing around the silent room, it might go in for a bit. And the slurp was uncalled for
I love this Mr Elliot
I also like how Lady Russell told Anne about “Louisa and her Captain” since they aren’t using letters in this movie fic
Anne crying in a bathtub was…strange. And her comment about others thinking she had grace also meant more people knew about her situation than shouldve?
They use first names too freely this Anne Elliot and Fredrick Wentworth
Anne is really talking up her relationship with Mr Elliot to Wentworth. I don’t like it.
“He was quite original wasn’t he” might be the best added line of this whole movie fic
Also where are the Admiral and his wife?
Captain Wentworth at 1:27:27 is actually correct! 1:27:53 too! (This is appropriate puppy dog hurt/yearning time)
Movie-fic’s Mr Elliot is their best character
I also like the addition of the bunny
Ok Mary eventually won me over mostly
How is Anne going to learn more about Mr Elliot?…or is she just Not going to?
W: “Are we finished” A: “suppose so” in that they’ve ended the conversation but also SUBTEXT their relationship
“I’m finished” with a bow? more subtext
I think they should have made the letter reading a voice over of Wentworth even tho Anne’s been narrating the whole movie.
Which they did for the second half but they should’ve done for the whole thing
I’m glad they only used one ending and not try to fit in the alternate as well
I have decided to take joy from the wedding scene if only because it has some closure even if it would NEVER happen in a truer adaptation
And now the beginning makes more sense with the end. Now I’m just wondering if it was the same scene or a parallel eight years later.
My biggest conclusion to the whole movie:
It’s like Netflix said: “what if I’m a 13 year old girl who wants to make a video fanfic of Persuasion but make Anne ‘Not-Like-Other-Girls’ [and more rude] and combine it with ‘the Office’ to make it so funny but keep it in the regency era because Jane Austen and I can just google details to add to the story because I am 13 and don’t know any other type of research. It’s going to be my debut fic!”
The characters became caricatures of themselves at the best of times and the story was butchered by the addition of cringy scenes and the deletion of important conversations and characters.
And I think perhaps they were going for an unreliable narrator in Anne? Like what her True Feelings might have been about the whole thing? That’s as generous as I feel like being right now.
This is a very slight edited version of my actual live-written draft. I removed a lot of my post-viewing thoughts. Also I’m not trying to dis 13yo fic makers, I just think professionals should have much higher standards.
It took me like 2.5 hours to actually make it through the movie
Jane Austen is brilliant at writing people you love to be annoyed at
Fanny Dashwood is so selfish and penny-pinching
John and Isabella Thorpe are fake with their words and only care about making themselves look good (and John will talk over you and kidnap you for a drive)
Sir Walter and Elizabeth Elliot make being vain a sport (You had to work for your money? Ew) and they treat our dear Anne like trash
Mary Musgrove complains non-stop and makes every crisis about herself
Mrs. Bennet does the same but upon closer inspection Mr. Bennet really does not help the situation
Mr. Bennet is a neglectful husband and father and just mocks his wife and younger daughters
Lydia is immature and rude (but I give her a pass now because she's only 15 and badly parented)
Edmund Bertrum keeps blindly pining after Mary Crawford but they are not on the same page about anything at all! Not a recipe for a successful relationship!
Mrs. Norris thinks she's generous but is actually stingy and constantly verbally and emotionally abuses Fanny to make herself feel important
Mrs. Elton thinks too highly of herself and is pushy about doing things for people
If you delve deeper into Jane Austen's novels, it's less annoyance and more sober reflection about how flawed her characters are. Most if not all of them are morally grey. They’re not perfect but they’re not evil. They are human. We know people like this. We are people like this.
On my latest read of Persuasion, I've been struck by the way Austen presents Mary Musgrove and Mrs. Harriet Smith as foils. On the one hand, Anne's sister Mary is constantly feeling slighted, ill, and ignored. She may have legitimate health issues, but she is so prone to exaggerate every other difficulty of her situation, we are led to assume that her illness is overblown as well. Mrs. Smith, by contrast, is truly ill with rheumatic fever, yet determined not to succumb to the bleakness of her situation. Mrs. Smith's illness is compounded by a lack of resources and support, all of which Mary takes for granted:
"[Anne] could scarcely imagine a more cheerless situation in itself than Mrs Smith's. She had been very fond of her husband: she had buried him. She had been used to affluence: it was gone. She had no child to connect her with life and happiness again, no relations to assist in the arrangement of perplexed affairs, no health to make all the rest supportable. Her accommodations were limited to a noisy parlour, and a dark bedroom behind, with no possibility of moving from one to the other without assistance, which there was only one servant in the house to afford, and she never quitted the house but to be conveyed into the warm bath. Yet, in spite of all this, Anne had reason to believe that she had moments only of languor and depression, to hours of occupation and enjoyment. How could it be? She watched, observed, reflected, and finally determined that this was not a case of fortitude or of resignation only. A submissive spirit might be patient, a strong understanding would supply resolution, but here was something more; here was that elasticity of mind, that disposition to be comforted, that power of turning readily from evil to good, and of finding employment which carried her out of herself, which was from nature alone. It was the choicest gift of Heaven; and Anne viewed her friend as one of those instances in which, by a merciful appointment, it seems designed to counterbalance almost every other want." - Chapter 17
Mary, unfortunately, lacks this "choicest gift":
"[I]t was rather a surprise to [Anne] to find Mary alone; but being alone, her being unwell and out of spirits was almost a matter of course. . . . Mary had not Anne's understanding nor temper. While well, and happy, and properly attended to, she had great good humour and excellent spirits; but any indisposition sunk her completely. She had no resources for solitude; and inheriting a considerable share of the Elliot self-importance, was very prone to add to every other distress that of fancying herself neglected and ill-used." - Chapter 5
Through these two characters, Austen seems to be trying to understand what it takes to endure illness, disappointment, and pain, and how to do so in a way that is admirable rather than disagreeable to others. And, it makes sense that these questions would be on her mind as she wrote Persuasion, approaching the end of her short life. Austen experienced years of chronic pain before her death, and I like to imagine that Mrs. Smith's strength and optimism brought her comfort. Still, it also feels like a window into the pressure Austen put on herself to suffer with grace and dignity, and I hope that she allowed herself, on harder days, to be Mary Musgrove.