Title: Sense and Sensibility
Author: Jane Austen
Rating: 5/5 stars
Reading Challenges: Page to Screen; 2011 - Back in the Day
How I Got It: Own It!
Sense and Sensibility is the first published novel by Jane Austen. Originally published under the pseudonym “A Lady,” Sense and Sensibility tells the story of the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne, who, upon the death of their father, are left in reduced circumstances to live on the country estate of a distant relative. At Barton Park, the Dashwood sisters engage in romances with the reserved Edward Ferrars, the dashing yet fickle Mr. Willoughby, and the gentlemanly Colonel Brandon, and eventually find the fulfillment of their romantic yearnings.
I participated in a readalong of the novel. You can check out my post here. For this review, I want to focus on the the transition from page to screen. I have two versions of S&S on dvd, so I will be comparing and contrasting both.
Overall I think S&S ranks towards the bottom of my Jane Austen ranking. I find Elinor a little too stiff and Marianne a little too silly for most of the book. And I absolutely loathe Edward! Who would want a sniveling husband? Definitely not me. The biggest redeeming factor has to be Colonel Brandon. I absolutely love him.
Ang Lee version:
Although I simply adore Emma Thompson, this version radically changes the book. Characters are dropped; where'd you go Miss Steele and Lady Middleton? A few scenes are added or changed. But my biggest complaint about the movie is the tone. It makes Elinor and Edward's relationship into a Harlequin romance novel. Now I love Harlequin romance at the right time. But this is Jane Austen. We don't need the smoldering looks, the breathy sighs, the accidental (not really) touches. It seems all too out in the open. The book paints Edward and Elinor as two acquaintances who could fall in love, but cautiously and slowly. They are not the fall head over heels romantics; that's supposed to be Marianne. And speaking of Marianne, I hated the last screen shot of Willoughby at the hill watching the weddings. It makes him a much more sympathetic character. While I can't stand Willoughby's actions, I really think he did love Marianne. But we don't need more screen time for him. That shot should have been reserved for Elinor, Edward, Marianne, and Colonel Brandon. Overall, a decent version with some great actors (Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, and Hugh Laurie (my fave side character)), but a few issues concerning the tone.
This version is my preferred version. I love the actresses who play Elinor and Marianne. Elinor is appropriately serious, but we do get to see her emotions. Marianne is silly, but not to the point that I can't stand her on screen. Colonel Brandon is (like he should be) strong, dependable, and overall amazing! Even Edward is more likable in this one. That is the one change that I completely approve of. I don't mind Edward marrying Elinor in this one. The Miss Steeles perfectly portray two young women looking out for the "best match." And Willoughby is perfectly deplorable in this version. My one big complaint: the opening scene. We see Willoughby and Colonel Brandon's ward (we don't know them at the time) engaging in an illicit tryst. I think the story that the Colonel tells Elinor later in the movie is just fine. We didn't need the visuals to go with it. Other than that, I absolutely love this version. And watch it again, and again, and again.