“Persuasion” (2022) starring Dakota Johnson, Cosmo Jarvis, & Henry Golding

Anne Elliot [lamenting her status w/ Frederick]: Now we’re worse than strangers, we’re exes.

To put it succinctly: this movie (streaming on Netflix) is a hot mess! Y’all MUST have seen/heard some of the horrible to “meh” reviews, as it has been out since July 15. I’m NOT going to recount the plot here, as I’m sure MOST of my regular readers know it. To start, this movie (which often breaks the 4th wall) is confused; it doesn’t know which audience it wants to aim at- Gen Z or Millennials (particularly “wine moms”). It’s certainly NOT geared toward mature/long-time Jane Austen fans (AKA Austenites)! One young woman in a JA Facebook group asked: “Was Anne Elliot supposed to be an alcoholic in the book?” LOL! It would be funny, IF it wasn’t so sad (or disappointing).

Mrs. Clay [commenting re: beauty standards]: They say if you’re a 5 in London, you’re a 10 in Bath.

Even before the movie was out, MANY viewers/critics were appalled by the trailer. I decided to be chill and give it a chance- ugh, curse my (slightly) optimistic personality! While watching, I don’t think I found it funny, emotional, or even slightly interesting. OK, the scenery was nice- that’s about it! There more telling instead of showing, which is a no-no (as reviewers involved in filmmaking commented). There are zero funny moments (IMO), unless you find cringe-y lines humorous. Anyways, this tale is NOT supposed to be light-hearted.

The filmmakers here have characterized Anne all wrong; she’s a mix of Elizabeth Bennett (Pride and Prejudice) and Emma Woodhouse (Emma). No longer is Anne introverted, observant, and self-sacrificing, she blabs her opinions, jokes around (incl. w/ men who are strangers), and drinks (red wine) often! This is the main problem book fans had, I’ve noticed. Dakota Johnson is probably NOT a bad actress (I haven’t yet seen much of her work), BUT she is wrong for this role. As some astute viewers commented: “She has a face that has definitely seen a cell phone.” Even some of the costumes are confusing; one glaring example a costume designer pointed out was Anne wearing black/fishnet gloves in the concert scene.

Sir Walter Elliot: What use is a title if you have to earn it? What use is anything if you have to earn it?

What about the supporting cast? They don’t fare much better than Johnson, sad to say. There is TOO much talking going on btwn Anne and Capt. Frederick Wentworth (Cosmo Jarvis); notice all the chatting on the beach at Lyme. Jarvis (haven’t seen his work either) looks uneasy in his costumes and his face often has the same (pained) expression. His line delivery sounds awkward, BUT then so was much of his dialogue. As Anne’s father, Sir Walter Elliot (Richard E. Grant- a veteran character actor), provides a BIT of humor. Anne’s scheming cousin, Mr. Elliot (Henry Golding), is also a ray of light- though he doesn’t have much to do. The Crofts get V little to do also; that’s disappointing since they are such a LT/compatible couple. The MOST cringe-y moment (IMO) involves Anne and her older/widowed neighbor, Lady Russell (Nikki-Amuka Bird), as they have a picnic outdoors. Anne asks Lady Russell: “But do you ever miss company?” (meaning the company of men- or sex)! Oy vey…

Unlike most JA adaptations you MAY have seen in the past, this movie has “color conscious casting.” “Color-blind casting” is the practice of casting actors w/o considering factors such as ethnicity, skin color, body shape, sex, or gender. However, color-conscious casting is the practice of casting actors where these features are considered. Anne’s younger sis, Mary Musgrove (Mia McKenna-Bruce), has a husband (Charles) who is played by a Black actor; their (adorable) young sons are thus biracial. Charles’ younger sisters are played by 2 biracial actresses: Nia Towle (Louisa) and Izuka Hoyle (Henrietta). Though Louisa was trying to get Anne and Wentworth together for a time (all wrong from the book), I thought Towle was a fine actress (as did many other viewers). You can see this version and judge for yourself, BUT I recommend the 1995 movie (starring Ciaran Hinds and Amanda Root) or the 2007 miniseries (starring Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones) instead!

One thought on ““Persuasion” (2022) starring Dakota Johnson, Cosmo Jarvis, & Henry Golding

  1. This really wasn’t on my list — I haven’t ever been able to get through an entire previous screen adaptation of it anyway. What’s notable is that even among the people who aren’t really negative about it, there’s no one who totally loves it.

    Like

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