Condescension and lack lustre

Persuasion is the latest project to be swept up in the post-Bridgerton craze with Dakota Johnson starring as the lead Anne Elliot. Living with a snobby family on the brink of bankruptcy, viewers are meant to see that Anne Elliot is a modern woman in a regency era, unconforming to the time period’s expectations. When Frederick Wentworth (Cosmo Jarvis) returns as the one that got away, Anne is supposedly torn between putting the past behind her or listening to her heart and pursuing a second chance.

Persuasion. L to R Dakota Johnson as Anne Elliot, Izuka Hoyle as Henrietta Musgrove, Nia Towle as Louisa Musgrove, Mia McKenna-Bruce as Mary Elliot in Persuasion. Cr. Nick WallNetflix 2022

During the opening minutes of Persuasion, there is a glimpse of hope that this Austen adaptation will follow the trend of a beautiful, romantic drama with regency England as a backdrop but unfortunately that is where the hope ends. Persuasion opens with beautiful, romantic music that has subtle swelling in the background as Anne gives a brief but informative introduction to her past dalliance with Captain Wentworth. That is all that remains of any hope of entertainment to watch as Anne stumbles through her role within her family and the troubles of seeing one’s former love. What started as an attempt of romance soon fades away with a very dated and terrible cliché of a sad, lonely woman who does nothing but drink wine, cry in bed and condescend her family members. Even for a period drama, Anne’s reaction to having to give Captain Wentworth up is displayed as a tired cliché of a woman who wants nothing more than love and who’s life cannot be fulfilled in any other way.

Persuasion. Cosmo Jarvis as Captain Frederick Wentworth in Persuasion. Cr. Nick Wall/Netflix © 2022

When the trailer for Persuasion dropped, many took to twitter to express their dissatisfaction of the attempt to modernise the Jane Austen novel by the same name by giving it the Fleabag treatment. Anne Elliot constantly breaks the fourth wall, something that Fleabag and Deadpool do perfectly but it simply does not work for a period piece. Anne comes off as condescending everyone she interacts with but also to the audience. The audience is not trusted to follow a timeline of events or to understand a simple change of venue with big letters of the estates and location flashing before scenes, despite there only being three main settings.

The stylistic choices made by director Whit Stillman are more frustrating for a viewer. Where Clueless had reimagined Emma and modernised it, it is as if Cracknell wanted to reach the same outcome without losing any of the scenery or costumes of a regency drama. It is as if the audience cannot be trusted to follow the simple plots and locations without things having to be slowed down or explained by Anne breaking the fourth wall.

The story only begins as Captain Wentworth returns as a wealthy naval captain, just as the Elliot’s are forced to move away from their estate due to bankruptcy. The only characters that were not frustrating were Henrietta Musgrove (Izuka Hoyle), Louisa Musgrove (Nia Towle) and Anne’s sister Mary (Mia McKenna-Bruce). Mary is shown as overly dramatic and self-centred, but she is not a cruel character and often provides Persuasion with a lift of energy that is desperately needed but that is more due to the performance of McKenna-Bruce. Hoyle and Towle also offer a breath of fresh air to Anne’s constant complaining and judgement to the audience as Mary’s sisters-in-law. In fact, as the viewer watches Persuasion, you are left to wonder if the movie would have been better if it focused more so on these three ladies.

It is clear the Persuasion had tried to capitalise on the Bridgerton craze but with lacklustre costumes, non-existent chemistry between all characters, and dialogue that often seems too modern and misplaced, this adaptation falls short of any enjoyment.

Persuasion releases Film in the United Kingdom on Netflix on July 15th, 2022 and theatrical releasing in the United Kingdom in select theatres on July 8th, 2022.

MVC of this movie is the end credits as it means the movie is over.

Written by Alice at

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