TV/film review: Persuasion (1996) and (2007)

Posted January 22, 2017 by Mary Kingswood in Review / 2 Comments

Screenshot (181)I watched these two back to back, so it seemed sensible to review them together. I can’t honestly say that one was dramatically better or worse than the other. They both had good points and weaker points.

The 1995 version features Amanda Root as Anne Elliott and Ciaran Hinds as Captain Wentworth, while the 2007 version has Sally Hawkins as Anne and Rupert Penry-Jones in the hero’s role. I love Amanda Root as Anne – she has the perfect face for it, capable of being made to look quite plain in the early stages of the book, and growing into a luminous beauty as her hopes rise towards the end. Her manner is perfect for the self-effacing but capable Anne, too. Sally Hawkins is less aptly cast, but she has a beautifully expressive face which captured the sad moments to perfection. Of the men, Ciaran Hinds is perhaps a slightly better fit for the role, but Rupert Penry-Jones appeals to my romantic side a little better.

Screenshot (182)Both versions follow the story of the book very closely, using much of the original language and with splendid sets and costumes. The supporting characters are all excellent, so no complaints at all in those areas. Well, it’s hard to go wrong when you have Lyme and Bath as your backdrops. The 1995 version is a tad earthier, with more mud about, and the Harvilles appear to live in quite a hovel. The 2007 version takes more liberties for dramatic purposes. All that running about Bath, the spray-drenched pier at Lyme and the long-drawn-out opening scene of the closing up of Kellynch Hall were a bit much for my taste. But this version also managed to convey brilliantly Captain Wentworth’s gradual reawakening to all Anne’s good qualities, which is difficult to do well, so kudos for that.

I enjoyed both versions, but if I had to choose one or the other, could I just say: I’ll have the Amanda Root version, but with Rupert Penry-Jones as Captain Wentworth? Pretty please?


2 responses to “TV/film review: Persuasion (1996) and (2007)

  1. Ealasaid

    I watched just the 1995 version as the 2007 version is available only on DVD. Of all the Jane Austen film adaptations I’ve seen this one really did feel like it was set in the past. I loved both actors playing the main characters, especially Amanda Root. She was perfect in the role.

  2. Victoria Hannah

    I very, very much prefer the 1995 version (sometimes I like it more than, gasp, the Colin Firth Pride and Prejudice!) It all comes down to one person, Ciaran Hinds. I have admitted to a very large crush on him for a while and I think this was the role that contributed to it (among his Caesar in Rome, his Sir Brian duBois-Guilbert in 1997’s Ivanhoe; his Frank Echlin in December Bride, and his Carl in Munich). But I think, as with most of his roles, his acting is so nuanced, you hardly see he’s doing it. He acts so naturally. I think Penry-Jones made people notice “Hey, I’m acting here! I’m looking handsome.” With Hinds, it’s so understated. Look at the scene in Uppercross where Anne, Wentworth, the Crofts, and the Musgroves are having supper and Wentworth is discussing his naval career. Admiral Croft teases him about not having a wife. “I did not have a wife in the year ’06.” Then he looks pointedly at Anne saying…but I could have!!! You know he still feels love for her but thinks that she’ll always reject him (so I guess that’s why he chases after Louisa). I feel that Penry-Jones forgets that Anne even had good qualities and has to remember them. I don’t think Frederick Wentworth ever forgot Anne but he felt she was lost to him. Hinds carries that interpretation so finely.