Book to Film: Persuasion by Jane Austen

Persuasion is perhaps my favorite novel of Jane Austen. It seems to me we are but a handful on this bandwagon. As much as I adore her other books and its heroines and heroes, it is Anne and her captain who 'pierce my soul'.

Eight years has passed since Anne Elliot of Kellynch Hall last saw the naval officer Frederick Wentworth. Eight years ago since she was happily betrothed to him but was persuaded by her friend Lady Russell to break off the engagement for such match is declared unsuitable. Now Frederick returns, a wealthy captain in the navy, and most likely they are to cross paths again. Anne obviously still have feelings for him but will things ever return the way it was between them?

Anne Elliot won me over with her grace and subtle elegance, her quiet nature and sensible voice. I find affinity in her character; her inner struggles and heartfelt musings. Austen has captured that fragile mood of anxiety and dread, the tentativeness of things, a threshold of uncertainty related to a burgeoning love that you thought was lost but hoped, and still hoping, to hold forever.

Our hero remains vague until the last possible moment. Frederick isn't exactly an open book in the beginning and we could barely read him and his intentions. It is clear at least that there is a bit of resentment there him being the jilted one, of course. But I must say he pulled the rug right off my feet, leaving me in 'half-agony, half-hope'. 

Almost half the book is all about the workings of Anne's mind so it is far harder to let it come across the screen. Though I watched both the 1995 and 2007 versions, I find myself watching the latter one over and over. Sally Hawkins play as Anne and Rupert Penri-Jones as Captain Wentworth. Him as captain is swoon worthy enough but to play as the Captain Wentworth, well, let me flail around once more. This Anne breaks the fourth wall of the screen, looking back at us, letting her pain show, sharing her anguish.

In a way, it works. We are given glimpse of her own feelings of guilt and agony as if appealing it to us will give her blessed relief. Rupert is too contained and unreadable as Frederick but once he gives out his genuine smiles, we are disarmed and I pity Anne's predicament. She must be dying for every smile not gestured in her direction.

While the young Mr. Elliott is much greasy enough for us (sorry Tobias Menzies, but you acted the part too well), I find Sir Walter Elliot played by Anthony Head quite amusing. He played that role to a tee, displaying his generous vanities and disdainful quips.

Some dialogues were interchanged on a few scenes which somehow defeats the point of finally pushing Frederick to write that letter at the end. Perhaps here they were aiming for a different motive. If it was so, I think I missed it for I was too busy gearing myself for that epic letter when I saw Frederick started scribbling. 

It was a good adaptation. I enjoyed it a lot and Rupert is just too hot to be missed. Really, all that running at the end is totally worth it.


Twenty-seven-year old Anne Elliot is Austen's most adult heroine. Eight years before the story proper begins, she is happily betrothed to a naval officer, Frederick Wentworth, but she precipitously breaks off the engagement when persuaded by her friend Lady Russell that such a match is unworthy. The breakup produces in Anne a deep and long-lasting regret. When later Wentworth returns from sea a rich and successful captain, he finds Anne's family on the brink of financial ruin and his own sister a tenant in Kellynch Hall, the Elliot estate. All the tension of the novel revolves around one question: Will Anne and Wentworth be reunited in their love?

Title: Persuasion

Author: Jane Austen
Genre: Classics
Published: 2004
Publisher: Oxford University 
Rating: ♨♨♨(5 cups) - There's a subtlety and at the same time piercing in its journey of emotions. Their love is quite unforgettable)

TV Movie Title: Persuasion

Director: Adrian Shergold
Cast: Sally Hawkins, Rupert Penri-Jones, Anthony Head, Alice Krige
Release Date: 2007
Rating: ♨ (4 cups) - (Beautiful sets and clothes. The cast shines and performed well. There's a closeness to the audience that enables them to be more riveted to the story.)

{photos. janeite journal}