You knew it was coming, dear reader. I could not call myself an Austen fan without at least taking a look at the new Persuasion on Netflix. Honestly, I don’t have a lot to add that hasn’t already been said, but just in case, here is the skinny.
First, go read this review in The Spectator: https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/everyone-involved-should-be-in-prison-netflixs-persuasion-reviewed
I completely agree with everything she said. Fourth wall broken egregiously, check. Wooden Wentworth, check. Ridiculous reconception of Anne Elliot who did NOT need reconceptualizing, check. In fact, the only thing that kept this from being a complete and total waste of time was Richard E. Grant, who delivers the only performance worth watching in the whole thing. And even he cannot save it.
It is horrible in every way, whether you are a purist or not. And I write this as someone who enjoyed the new Emma, which was a little offbeat. See that review here.
Anne Elliot is not some wine-swilling smart *ss in a Regency gown. She is a heroine of the first order and reducing her to a heartsick featherweight is a travesty. Frederick Wentworth wrote what is perhaps the most beautiful letter in the history of literature and here, you will just want him to go to sea and be gone. I am not sure, nor do I think the director was sure, what he is supposed to be doing. He tries to look soulful, but he just looks like he needs new glasses to keep his eyes from crossing, really.
Perhaps while they are in prison, they will read some Austen and understand what the story is actually about, but I doubt it. HINT: It is not a modern rom com in dress up, it just isn’t. If you haven’t watched it yet, don’t feel like you need to. If you want to watch it and discuss how terrible it is with your friends, definitely do.