• Ken Silvers

Persuasion


If you are a fan of the television series "Bridgerton" or "Downton Abbey" you will want to check out the new film "Persuasion" based on the Jane Austen novel of the same name. I'm sure if you have read any of the Austen novels you will be watching. The film is set in England, and the country never looked so beautiful as it does in this film. The story follows Anne Elliot (Dakota Johnson) as she deals with her family and pines for her lost love Captain Frederick Wentworth (Cosmo Jarvis), who she was persuaded not to marry seven years before, as he was of humble origins. As if her loss isn't enough, she must constantly deal with her snobby family, led by her vain, and often hilarious father Sir Walter Ellito (Richad E. Grant), her older and self absorbed sister Elizabeth (Yolanda Kettle), and her lazy and hypercondriac sister Mary (Mia McKenna-Bruce). Feeling exasperated by her family, she dreams of Frederick often, following his naval exploits from newspapers and wonders if he still longs for her despite their hurtful breakup. An opportunity presents a reunion with Fredrick after Anne is called to Mary's home to care for her "sick" sister, who claims to be on death's door, but is so lazy it takes every effort for her to walk. While she is at her sister's home, her father and older sister have left their estate due to financial problems, and have rented the home to a couple Anne finds out have a connection to Fredrick. Of course, Fredrick is coming to visit, leaving the door open for a certain awkward reunion. While Anne is excited about the prospect of seeing her former love, she is continuing to deal with her relatives and the appearance of a dashing man named Mr. Elliot (Henry Godling), who has an unexpected connection to the Elliot family. Mr. Elliot is wealthy, something most characters in these films desire, and develops an attraction for Anne, leaving her with conflicting feelings. However, the attraction between Frederick and Anne has never cooled, and the two are constantly staring at each other even though Frederick is cool toward his former love at first, confesses he wants them to be "friends" (right). Further complicating matters is the sudden attraction of one of Anne's sister-in-laws toward Frederick, who even though she wants Anne to be happy, sets her sights on the Captain. Despite all his efforts to charm Anne, Mr. Elliot fails to completely win her over, as Anne knows her only true love is Frederick. While I have never read an Austen novel, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see where the story will lead, but it is fun getting there. I really enjoyed the actors portraying the Elliot family, with Grant leading the way as Anne's narcissistic father. Mckenna-Bruce is very effective as the whiny Mary, and is so funny/annoying you want to smack her, and I wish Anne had given her one "across the lips" as TV character Fred Sanford used to say. Johnson and Jarvis have wonderful chemistry, and at times Jarvis appears as if he may implode at the mere site of Anne. I must admit I never felt Johnson was one of the best actors ever to come out of Hollywood, but she is very effective in this film. Her character talks directly to the audience during the film, and while I found this annoying at first, I actually came to enjoy the bit. It was especially effective when Anne was discussing her family with a wink and a nod. With lavish sets, beautiful scenery, witty dialogue and charismatic leads, "Persuasion" is a pleasant diversion for those who enjoy period romantic films. Now streaming on Netflix. (Rated PG)

4/5