This review will contain spoilers to this book and its adaptations.
I finally was able to read this. Having seen so many adaptations, I do feel that I know this already, but more on that later. I really do like reading Jane Austen. She’s such a comfort. Her prose makes you feel as if you are with a friend and there’s a smartness and intimacy few authors can capture with the reader. I like the plot to this and can see how famous Austen became writing this. The characters really make this. For example, Lucy Steele is one of the most, if not the most, annoying Austen characters. Austen has many vexing characters of ignorance, shallowness and stupidity, but Lucy Steele is noteworthy because of her vindictive and two faced nature in confiding in Elinor. My favourite characters are Elinor and Colonel Brandon. The former for her observation, intelligence, and her “sense”. The latter for being romantic in a steadfast and thougthful way. The fact that Brandon is one of the oldest Austen heroes makes him more interesting. He does deserve happiness, but Marianne’s ending with him is in the last two pages, and glosses over their courtship. I liked Marianne by the end of the book, but the ending leaves me wanting about how she really fell for him or more details of their friendship. It seemed too quick. I think the adaptations try to explore this relationship more.
I have seen the 1995 adaptation (written and starring by Emma Thomspon) and the 2008 one (by Andrew Davies). I have even seen most of the one from the 1981 tv version.
1981: Oh the 80s. I’ve only seen bits, but it’s not that bad. I think the casting on Marianne works well. Elinor too. It’s by no means a good looking production, and it’s such a timewarp with its choices. It’s not horrorific, but I admit that one sees this as curiosity rather than for actual penchant for this version.
1995: My first version and the most famous. I adore Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, and Kate Winslet. They are in my top of favourite British actors (which is a large list but still). Each of them are worth the rewatch alone. The acting is superb and the direction by Ang Lee wonderful. I really wish this could have been longer because it was too short. You do not see the Willoughby apology scene. The shooting is so beautiful; I really like this film and would not be difficult to convince me to rewatch it. As much as I care for ET and AR, when I saw the 2008 version, I remembered how much older they were than their characters were suppose to be.
2008: Age appropriate casting, more or less. I really liked this version. The casting was really excellent and the length allowed it to explore the book further than the movie did. I liked David Morrissey before, but this is where I flat out loved him as Brandon. One thing this series is very smart about doing is showcasing the relationship between Brand and Marianne not only after her illness, but particularly before she meets Willoughby. A couple of scenes are put in to imply that their friendship was always a strong one before Willoughby came along. When I read the novel, I often thought about this series, probably because it was so recent in my mind, but also the fact that this cast looks much more like the ones in my head due to their age. While Davies can be rather melodramatic (chopping wood in the rain Edward Ferrars…?), it is a good adaptation.