JANE AUSTEN MOVIE CLUB: Persuasion (2007)

Welcome to a special meeting of Risky Regencies’ Jane Austen Movie Club!

Today we’re discussing the newest adaptation of Persuasion, which aired in the US this past Sunday on PBS, and in the UK last year.

First, here’s some Knowledge to Impress your Friends With: contrary to what some people assume, this Persuasion is not a BBC production. The upcoming new Sense and Sensibility is BBC, but the other three new adaptations (Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, and Mansfield Park) are ITV.

Or actually, to be quite correct: this Persuasion was produced by Clerkenwell Films and WGBH, and distributed by ITV and PBS. πŸ™‚

Now that that sticky mess is out of the way, please turn off your cell phones and pagers, place your tray tables in their upright position, and tell us what you thought of the new Persuasion!

(By the way, here’s an interview with Sally Hawkins, the new Anne Elliot. A rather ordinary interview, in my opinion, but see what you think.)

To aid discussion, here’s a cast list and some of the other major credits. As I love noticing folks who’ve worked on other historical adaptations, I’ve put some “you’ve seen him in this” tidbits in purple.

Director: Adrian Shergold

Screenplay: Simon Burke

Burke’s screenwriting credits include the 1997 miniseries of Tom Jones and some of the Cadfael series.

CAST:

Sally Hawkins — Anne Elliot

Hawkins played Mary Shelley in the 2003 TV Byron which starred Jonny Lee Miller.

Anthony Head — Sir Walter Elliot

Julia Davis — Elizabeth Elliot

Amanda Hale — Mary Musgrove

Rupert Penry-Jones — Captain Wentworth

Penry-Jones played St John Rivers in the Samantha Morton/Ciaran Hinds Jane Eyre.

Alice Krige — Lady Russell

Krige played Mary Shelley in 1988’s Haunted Summer, and the beautiful marquesa in Sharpe’s Honour.

Michael Fenton Stevens — Mr. Shepherd

Mary Stockley — Mrs. Clay

Peter Wight — Admiral Croft

Wight played Mr. Gardiner in the 2005 (Keira Knightley) Pride and Prejudice.

Marion Bailey — Mrs. Croft

Jennifer Higham — Louisa Musgrove

Rosamund Stephen — Henrietta Musgrove

Stephen played Miss de Bourgh in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice.

Stella Gonet — Mrs. Musgrove

Sam Hazeldine — Charles Musgrove

Nicholas Farrell — Mr. Musgrove

Farrell played Fenner in Sharpe’s Regiment, Edmund Bertram in the 1983 BBC Mansfield Park, and Henry Thornton in Amazing Grace.

Joseph Mawle — Captain Harville

Finlay Robertson — James Benwick

Tobias Menzies — William Elliot

Maisie Dimbleby — Mrs. Smith

Sarah Buckland — Nurse Rooke

So, what did you think???

All opinions welcome! (Though do be polite!)

And be sure to stop by here on the next two Tuesdays, when we’ll be discussing the new Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park!

Cara
Cara King, who reads and writes books, and would sleep on them too if she were a cat

About Elena Greene

Elena Greene grew up reading anything she could lay her hands on, including her mother's Georgette Heyer novels. She also enjoyed writing but decided to pursue a more practical career in software engineering. Fate intervened when she was sent on a three year international assignment to England, where she was inspired to start writing romances set in the Regency. Her books have won the National Readers' Choice Award, the Desert Rose Golden Quill and the Colorado Romance Writers' Award of Excellence. Her Super Regency, LADY DEARING'S MASQUERADE, won RT Book Club's award for Best Regency Romance of 2005 and made the Kindle Top 100 list in 2011. When not writing, Elena enjoys swimming, cooking, meditation, playing the piano, volunteer work and craft projects. She lives in upstate New York with her two daughters and more yarn, wire and beads than she would like to admit.
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32 Responses to JANE AUSTEN MOVIE CLUB: Persuasion (2007)

  1. Sigh! I really hoped that I would like this version of Persuasion. I adored the Channel 4/Roger Michell directed version with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds that came out around 1995. It’s my favorite Jane Austen adaptation on film. Unfortunately, I thought this version fell short, not just acting wise but in the script as well. For one thing it was truncated, I’ve heard that the ITV version was longer than the version that hit our shores. I did like Anthony Head as Sir Walter but felt that he lacked the humor of Corin Redgrave’s Sir Walter. Sally Hawkins for me was just dreary as Anne and I hated the writing in the diary and the looks at the camera. Rupert Penry Jones seemed to be playing Mr. Darcy and not Captain Wentworth. I had a huge problem with Mrs. Smith running into Anne on the street in Bath to tell her about Mr. Elliott and then Anne runnning the Bath 10K through the streets looking for Captain Wentworth and that kiss? Mamma Mia, was it awful. Did like Tobias Menzies as their cousin, but thought the actress playing Elizabeth looked like Anne’s mother and not her sister. Disliked this Mary Musgrove compared to Sophie Thompson’s interpretation. Also, the house in Bath that Sir Walter and Elizabeth move to was incredibly grand for people who were supposed to be economizing. Missed the relationship that Amanda Root as Anne and Susan Fleetwood as Lady Russell had in the earlier film. Alice Krige, while lovely, had absolutely nothing to do in this film. All in all it was a disappointment for me.

  2. Diane Gaston says:

    I liked it.
    At the same time, I think that it was not Jane Austen’s Persuasion, but it did have some nice elements. Had I never read the book nor seen the Ciaran Hinds/Amanda Root Persuasion, I would have loved it.
    I liked the romance of it. Penry-Jones, while not being the Capt. Wentworth of the book, was a yummy hero whose smoldering glances at Ann told you that he was still in love with her. That wasn’t Austen, but it made for a good love story.
    Sally Hawkins had a gentleness that I liked and an uncanny ability to look plain one minute and beautiful when she smiled.

    There could have been better tension created. Unlike in Austen, the viewer learned too early that Wentworth really hadn’t been planning to marry the Musgrove girl. The script departed too much from Jane’s book in ways that didn’t improve the story, but, still, it was a nice story!

    My verdict…very flawed rendition of Austen, but a very good television movie!

  3. I am SO ANNOYED! I was out on Sunday, later than I expected, and missed it. Then I tried to record it on a cable station and got the first minute and then a black screen and sound only.

    Uh, does anyone else think that Rupert Penry-Jones isn’t butch enough to play Wentworth? I thought he was pretty good in Jane Eyre (altho she looked like a sulky duck with a moustache and Rochester was far too hot).

  4. Santa says:

    My post got eaten!

    I wanted to love this version but it skipped around too much for me. I thought Rupert Penry Jones was delish but I wish he wore his uniform. I mean, what is Captain Wentworth without his uniform?

    And the sprint thru Bath was all wrong on a number of levels! Nobody runs through Bath – at least that’s what I’ve heard.

    I did like Anthony Head as Sir Walter. He captured him perfectly. I especially liked the scamper back down the receiving line to his exulted relation. Talk about behaving like a mushroom.

  5. Lois says:

    Well, in short, I liked it quite a bit. πŸ™‚ I first saw it last year on youtube, but I rewatched it Sunday for today. . . and there are areas that could have been different, but still overall I really liked it. . . and yep, more than the 1995 one. πŸ™‚ Though the letter scene with him trying to get her attention was better in the 95 one. πŸ™‚

    Lois

  6. Santa says:

    Oh, and thanks for the book!

  7. “Uh, does anyone else think that Rupert Penry-Jones isn’t butch enough to play Wentworth?”

    I think it’s quite apt to say he was playing Darcy rather than Wentworth. πŸ™‚ He was good as the villain in ‘Casanova’ though.

    I’m at work so can’t make a long comment, but I did not like it at all. It was dull and pedestrian, and Anne needed to close her mouth once in a while. And that kiss–ugh. Okay, maybe I liked some of the secondary characters–Giles from ‘Buffy’ and that guy from ‘Rome’. They were good, and Alice Krige as Lady Russell, though they could have developed the “motherly” relationship between her and Anne a bit more. That’s it for now. πŸ™‚

  8. Then again, I HAVE been watching a lot of ‘North and South’ lately–maybe my standards have become impossibly high for other movies. πŸ™‚

  9. Diane Gaston says:

    Santa said: I did like Anthony Head as Sir Walter. He captured him perfectly. I especially liked the scamper back down the receiving line to his exulted relation. Talk about behaving like a mushroom.

    I thought that part was good, but I thought that Head didn’t capture the ridiculousness of Sir Walter that Jane Austen conveyed and was done so well in the other Persuasion. I thought in this version all of Ann’s relations were much more mean-spirited than Austen wrote them, instead of being ridiculous and clueless.

    But, again, it made for a good story this way. It just wasn’t quite Jane’s story

    Lois, you saw this on Youtube????

  10. Santa says:

    You’re right. Even Mary came off a bit too harsh.

  11. doglady says:

    Santa, the gremlins are hungry today. They ate my post too! GRRRR! How am I supposed to remember what I wrote? My Walzheimers disease makes it difficult to remember my own name let alone something I wrote 20 minutes ago. (For the uninformed, Walzheimers is a mind sucking syndrome that causes dementia from the sheer insanity of working at Wal-Mart!) Where was I? Oh yes! Persuasion. I tend to agree with the Divine Ms G. Had I not seen the Amanda Root / Ciaran Hinds version AND read the book a number of times I would have been quite entertained by this version. However, as I have had access to both, it did have some problems. I love Alice Krige (anyone remember Ghost Story) but she was completely underused in this film.
    I too did not care for the way Anne’s family was portrayed. I think JA intended for us to be frustrated with her. Not angry.

  12. Cara King says:

    Santa, good point about Wentworth and his uniform! I hadn’t even thought of that, but now that you point it out, I think it’s very true. I’d have found him more attractive in a uniform. πŸ™‚

    Not that he wasn’t attractive… Obviously, very handsome. And, I suppose, in some ways more like the Wentworth I imagined from the book than Ciaran Hinds was (though I utterly adore Hinds in the role.) I’ve always thought the Wentworth in the book is really, in some ways, quite young…and a little immature. And Hinds was very much a man.

    Speaking of Hinds…I think my reaction to the new Persuasion is, at the moment, still too biased. I keep thinking “it was better in the Michell version!” which is really not helpful. I’d much rather be able to judge it on its own merits, the way I seem to be able to do with all the different Pride & Prejudice versions, for some reason!

    Maybe I’ve just seen the Michell Persuasion too often… And I thought the old BBC Persuasion was dead dull, so I really just ignore it, whereas I’ve known multiple versions of P&P for a very long time…

    Just a couple things I’ll say now, that I’m certain about:

    1) I HATED the running at the end. I was sort of rolling my eyes when she ran off to the Pump Room — I thought it stupid and annoying. But then when she turned back and had to run back up to the Royal Crescent, I just started laughing, it was SO awful.

    2) I also hated the kiss at the end. What the heck was that all about??? Too freaky, too bizarre, not at all romantic (he clearly did NOT want to kiss her!), and just laughable…

    3) Elizabeth totally looked like she was wearing a wig. And if she was, why not make her hair color more like her sisters’? The three actresses actually look like they could be sisters, other than that…

    Lois wrote:

    but still overall I really liked it. . . and yep, more than the 1995 one.

    Okay, have to run and get my smelling salts, I’m feeling faint… πŸ™‚

    BTW, I think I’ll be popping in and out all day, as I think of new things to say!

    BTW2, so sad about the Blogger gremlins! I’ve started copying my comment before I try to post it, in case it dies… (And sometimes the back button on the browser will bring it back!)

    Cara

  13. Elena Greene says:

    I didn’t set my expectations too high for this one so I was actually pleasantly surprised.

    It is not nearly as good as the Amanda Root/Ciaran Hinds version but I think it suffered quite heavily under the handicap of being forced into 90 minutes.

    Some of the editing I agree with, some bothered me, such as moving Anne’s speech about women loving longest when hope is past from Bath to Lyme and not allowing Captain Wentworth to hear it, which would have been a powerful moment.

    The kiss bugged me too. I absolutely adore a slow, hesitant first kiss (or first kiss after 8 years, LOL) but this went on too long. It seemed as if she wanted it more than he did.

    Now that I’ve mentioned the things I didn’t like, I’ll talk about what I did. Overall I liked the casting and performances. I felt Anne’s emotions, thought Rupert Penry Jones was yummy, enjoyed the use of setting and the period feel.

    Overall it was Austen Lite but a very entertaining way to spend an hour and a half.

  14. Anonymous says:

    “North and South” – that is now the standard against which I judge these miniseries (and the ending kisses . . .)

  15. Susan/DC says:

    My opinion was more “meh”. I liked it, although not as much as the Hinds/Root version. Ciaran Hinds is MUCH more my idea of a sea captain, as it’s impossible to imagine anyone disobeying an order from those cheekbones. And I liked how at the end Root was allowed to look softer and prettier, as if she’d been frozen at the beginning but found herself beginning to bloom by the end. Not that I didn’t like Sally Hawkins or Rupert Penry Jones. The one scene I felt was quite effective was the one where they accidently find themselves in the same shop during a rainstorm — the understated tension is quite delicious.

  16. I’m glad I watched it, but I share many of the same objections/reservations as the posts above. The kiss was indeed ridiculous. I thought the locations were lovely, tho. Poor Anne didn’t have much range of emotion to her—she seemed like an awful drip. And the youngest sister—was she supposed to be a hunchback as well as a hypochondriac? I thought many of the performers played their roles too cartoonishly— Mary, Sir Walter and Elizabeth in particular. But even bad Austen is better than no Austen. I’ll be in my PJs next Sunday night with the remote control ready.

  17. Cara King says:

    Okay, a few more miscellaneous comments:

    — according to imdb, the running time in Finland (!) was 93 minutes, so I’m guessing it’s the same length everywhere. (And indeed, I think the normal Masterpiece Theatre running time is more like two hours, isn’t it? So they would have had no reason to cut it.)

    — the Michell version was just 107 minutes (again according to imdb), which is only 14 minutes longer than this version… Not a huge difference, but some.

    — I had the feeling that someone unfamiliar with the story might be rather lost…there are so many characters, and many of them aren’t really established concretely before others are brought in. I do wonder what someone who’d never read or seen any Persuasion before made of Captains Harville & Benwick, of Anne’s two sisters and the two Musgrove girls, of Mrs. Clay and Mrs. Smith and the Crofts and Lady Russell even William Elliot…

    — given how short it was, and how little time they had to handle the large number of characters and (fairly) large number of plot points, I think some time was wasted in repeating some information. There were three separate times when someone brought up the whole William Elliot wants to stop Sir Walter from marrying Mrs. Clay thing… And the third time it was mentioned to Anne (by Mrs Smith) Anne seemed very surprised at the idea! Though she’d talked it over in the Pump Room with Lady Russell, and IIRC with William Elliot himself…

    — I liked the Bath backdrops a lot, though my knowledge of Bath did make some things look wrong (e.g. coming out of #1 Royal Crescent while calling it Camden Place). I suppose, though, it would be overly picky to say that was a drawback — because how many viewers will it bother? πŸ™‚

    — I did, however, think the interior of their Camden Place/Royal Crescent house just looked wrong. Not only too ornate, but just not very Bath-like. (Too wide, for one!) But again, I suppose I’m being way too picky here.

    — the “giving Anne the house” at the end made no sense to me! (a) it wasn’t being sold; (b) they’d said he only needed to retrench a bit, not liquidate his assets; (c) we hadn’t been given much reason to think Anne was all that attached to the house! (d) it just felt wrong, somehow. So much is made of how wonderful the navy is, and how beautiful Lyme is…so an inland ending just feels tonally off to me… (Though a Bath ending would be fine. After all, it is near waters…) πŸ™‚

    — I sometimes really liked Amanda Hale’s performance as hypochondriac Mary, but sometimes I thought she went way over the top. (I also, BTW, thought Sophie Thompson was a bit over the top as the Mary in the earlier version…though I adored Sophie Thompson in Emma…and Emma Thompson in Sophie…just kidding!)

    — okay, dinner time, more later! πŸ™‚

    Cara

  18. Santa says:

    That scene where they run into one another was the only scene where I thought I saw Anne soften a bit. I liked that alot.

    I didn’t like the idea of her getting the house in the end; although, in the book she is as upset as her father for having to let out the house for no other reason than her relatives inability to economize.

  19. Todd says:

    If I’d never read the book…maybe.

    But I have one irreconcilable problem with this version: they took Anne Elliot, the most mature and level-headed of all Austen’s heroines (even more than Elinor, being older and wiser), and made her pathetic! Weep, weep, cry, cry, let everyone walk all over me. The Anne of the book may suffer, but she is a rock that everyone depends on. We saw very little of that in this version, where Anne came across even at the end as a mousy little thing.

    I also disliked the running at the end–it made me flash back to the pilot episode of Tru Calling–and I thought that palace they were living in was unlike anywhere I’d ever seen in Bath. In the book there’s a specific reference to how small their house in Bath was compared to Kellynch. And buying Kellynch for Anne at the end made absolutely no sense.

    Most of the other characters were OK for me. I thought her relatives came across as a bit too mean-spirited and vulgar, rather than just dim and selfish, but really I thought so about the 1995 version, too. (Always love Anthony Head, though.:-) I liked Rupert Penry-Jones all right, though he didn’t strike me as very much of a sailor–I don’t think he was ever in uniform.

    Anyway, this version fell far short of displacing the 1995 Persuasion in my affections.

    Todd-who-thinks-they-should-recut-the-running-part-and-sell-it-as-a-Nike-commercial

  20. Patois says:

    Add my vote to the “No, no, please, no!” pile on the new Persuasion. While I thought Ciaran Hinds was a little too harsh as the captain in the other version, I agree that Penryn Jones was way too soft. And Sally Hawkins was too forward as Anne–the 10K up and down Bath, as someone else put it was horrific.

    Casting aside, the new version lacked the attention to detail in things like costuming. (Okay, I used to be a professional costumer, so these things really bother me!)

    I could go on and on about why the other one was superior–and to my mind the best of the filmed Austens, including Colin Firth’s Darcy–but I just wanted to register my vote!

  21. Georgie Lee says:

    I didn’t get to see this one. After a day of yard work I couldn’t stay up until 9pm. I’m hoping this goes to Nertflix fast so I can see it.

  22. Cara King says:

    I’m hoping this goes to Nertflix fast so I can see it.

    Georgie, the DVD has already been released in the US, but from what I can see, Netflix doesn’t have it yet for some reason. Which is actually very strange, because they have Northanger Abbey listed as available starting next week, and Mansfield Park on January 29…

    Cara

  23. Cara King says:

    By the way, I just read an article on the Jane Austen Magazine website that points out that regulations said a naval officer on furlough was not allowed to wear his uniform…which explains why this Wentworth was in civilian clothes!

    Never having written a naval hero, I’d never heard this before…and, much as I love historical accuracy, I fear I love Ciaran Hinds in uniform more! πŸ™‚

    Cara

  24. Anonymous says:

    i loved it…then again i can agree with some of the not so great comments posted…like the
    10k run in Bath…

  25. Cara King says:

    then again i can agree with some of the not so great comments posted…like the
    10k run in Bath…

    LOL!

    Now whenever I see someone running on TV, I always figure they’re confused and think they’re in Persuasion. πŸ™‚

    Cara

  26. Anonymous says:

    Which version of Mansfield Park (1999 or 2007) is better?…

  27. Cara King says:

    Which version of Mansfield Park (1999 or 2007) is better?…

    Well, IMHO, they’re both so bad (in somewhat different ways) that I wouldn’t really recommend either one…

    But if you must watch one…the 1999 one is livelier, but the 2007 one is somewhat closer to the book…

    Cara

  28. Claire says:

    Hello, I don’t speak english very well,I’m latin, here is very hard even find any english book or english movie, but thank God I can see both movies. I loved the version Root/Hinds, was so much better than the new, even take better care of the detaills, and all the charaters, and to say the true, I think that the best was the look of the protagonist, he probably looks so good as Austen imagine that Wentworth looks, but in the acting part Ciaran wins and he was handsome as well. He really acts like Cap Wentwort, he was made for the rol,the way he walks, moves and talks, he was perfect like Frederick. About the old Anne, even she was older fill the part so much better
    And no ofense to the new Anne, but she was wrong. I can’t see in her the sweetness of Anne Elliot, I hate those parts when she writes in her diarys and looks at the camera, I don’t see the point on that scenes. The old Sir Elliot was so much more entertained that this one, and the olds Elizabeth and Mary was better. The new sisters of Anne don’t follow the descriptions of Austen.
    But in this version was something really nice. The final,when Frederick gives her the house. I think they look completely happy, that moment likes me a lot,as much as when in the other one they were in the boat.
    Even I enjoy the new movie,I think that the old was better, because it really is the Persuasion of Austen.

  29. Cara King says:

    Thanks for sharing your opinion, Claire! Very well expressed. And I agree with you on everything, I think! Ciaran Hinds was truly made for the role of Wentworth.

    Cara

  30. Anonymous says:

    Sally, close your mouth!!!!

  31. I have to say that I have seen both versions many times and find the 1995 extremely boring compared to the 2007. I may be in the minority here but I actually never felt any passion between Amanda and Ciaran. But there was so much desire in Sally and Rupert’s longing but short looks. I actually felt that the 1995 Persusain lacked warmth. I never found it to hold my interest. I may be the only person to say this but the running and the kiss never bothered me. If you check out youtube you will see that there are almost 100 videos dedicated to Sally & Rupert’s interpretation of Anne and Wentworth. I would recommend this version to everyone. There is so much love in their manner. From the first moment they see each other it is evident that they are both using all their willpower not to give in to their not so hidden desires. To me Rupert is the kind of hot sailor that a young woman would have a hard time
    forgetting about.I also have to say Sally was just more intriguing and charismatic as Anne than Amanda who I felt played it rather bland.

  32. Mary says:

    I agree with Talent Connection. I loved this version. The Amanda And Ciaran acted well but they looked much to old for the parts. Anne is 27 and we can assume Wentworth not significantly older. In the 1995 version Ciaran was 41 in real life. I thought Penry-Jones was superb, dreamy, age appropriate. Swoon!

    I loved this version. I was fresh off of a reading of the book when I saw it. The running part I thought at first was kind of silly but it was an effective and economical way of ratcheting up the tension. The kiss…a smidge too long in my opinion but I’m okay with it.

    I LOVED Anthony Head as Sir Walter. Just loved him.

    I thought that giving her Kellynch Hall was a nice note at the end. A way to kind of establish their romance for the future.

    I just loved it. The end!

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