Y’know, I can hardly imagine that many girls spend their Friday nights watching obscure movie renditions of classic Jane Austen novels.
This girl? Well, if it was Friday, Sept. 7, that’s exactly what she did.
I plucked a BBC version of Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” from the top shelf of the library’s “P” section in the DVD collection on my way home from work. Somehow, this particular movie had escaped my notice in the tens of times I’ve poured over the movie section, wondering what movie to watch this or that evening. Fun fact: I’ve never been to a movie rental store on my own and can’t fathom why anyone would pay to watch a scratched-up DVD.
What makes me giggle about these movies, first, is the blurbs. You know, the puffy promo quotes from publications that people-wh0-sort-of-care-about-movies are supposed to pay attention to. Ergo:
“A fairy tale for adults! A splendid motion picture!” –from some woman named Georgia Brown writing for The Village Voice. !!s original.
“The best picture of the year.” –from an anonymous writer at Time Magazine. Why are you anonymous, writer? Why not stick your name right there with the publication, like Ms. Brown was brave enough to do (notwithstanding !!s)? Oh, maybe because you were overstating your case. Or maybe you have a name like Cogglethorp and are just too ashamed to admit it. You’re doomed to a life of anonymous writerly misery. Hmm, that’s probably it.
“Two Thumbs Up.” – from the renown Siskel and Ebert TV movie review show. You remember watching that? For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out which one was Siskel and which one was Ebert. And when I did finally solve the riddle, it was because the show changed to Ebert and Roeper. I still thought Ebert looked more like a Gene than a Roger. And Gene Siskel didn’t look like anything at all. Or at least more like a Richard or a Bert than a Gene. Yeah, Bert would have done nicely. Maybe that’s why I always mixed up their names?
So. With such splendidly thumbs-up review blurbs, I figured it couldn’t be too bad.
Gah. I love the book, and even that wasn’t enough to make me desire to watch this movie a second time. Unhappily, it wasn’t even quite bad enough to make it laughable, like the Utah version of Pride and Prejudice. Nothing against Utah, not at all. But some screenwriter decided to modernize the classic novel and set it amid the culture of the western U.S. Half-baked hilarity ensued.
The poor actress playing Persuasion’s protagonist, Anne Elliot (clearly a well-bred Anne with an E), looked like she was constipated the entire movie. For that matter, Anne’s sister Mary could’ve used a face massage, her muscles were so tight. My theory is, she brought it upon herself, fretting so much about etiquette and what was “due” her as the wife of Charles Musgrove. She always did grate on my nerves.
Oh… I just now noticed the “Masterpiece Theater” notation on the back of the DVD box. I suppose that should’ve been a clue to the kind of movie I could have expected.
If only Kenneth Branagh could get his hands on one of these books… I might actually pay to see that. Not at a movie rental place, though. I still don’t quite understand their existence.