Jane Austen’s Sanditon ‘Sexed-up’ in Andrew Davies Adaptation

The screenwriter says he used all the material from Austen’s work in the first half of the first episode.

Source: Jane Austen’s Sanditon ‘sexed up’ in Andrew Davies adaptation

Love & Friendship (Movie 2016)

love and friendship23 Kernels

Oh, dear. I dare say that I may incite discord over my review of Love & Friendship, which currently has a rather high 98% Tomato Meter, with a 95% audience likeability rating.  However, I cannot give it a 5, 4, 2, or 1, but have settled upon 3 Kernels, having spilled many more on the theater floor – no I really did.  Popcorn bags can be so clumsy at times. After I stepped over my mess and left the dark abode at the end, I felt neither enthralled nor disgusted but rather neutral.

Like the other women in the audience, with sparsely a male to be seen anywhere, I probably had very high expectations of seeing a new Austen film. Perhaps I expected romance, but alas there was none compared to other Austen adaptations. I did find agreeable-looking men in cravats and fine clothing, beautiful English manor houses, and ladies dressed in not-so-Regency-type clothing. Costumes appeared to be more of the late eighteenth-century variety with no high waistlines such as 1790’s.

However, it was not the costumes or casting that I found bothersome, it was a rather chatty Lady Susan. By the end of the movie, you are quite thankful to see her in the background, rather than foreground, with her mouth shut.  Yes, at times, her conversational style, tone, and wit may bring a smile, but her character is difficult to engage. Through the majority of the story you find her motives questionable, her narcissistic self-center character irritating, and her cold regard for her daughter bothersome. She lives up to her reputation of being a widow and penniless flirt with a daughter of marketable age to wed.  With no home to call her own, she stays with friends and relatives until she has overstayed her welcome, at times leaving behind discord in her wake.

There are a few laughable moments, which are provided by a rather dimwitted suitor, Sir James Martin, for her daughter. It’s far from “howling funny” as some critics have raved. Only once did the audience laugh out loud over Sir Martin mistaking that the good Lord gave us twelve commandments instead of ten. The introduction of characters is a bit unique and endearing, showing their names with a short quip underneath them regarding their status in this tale of Love & Friendship.  Nevertheless, even with the slight charm, I thought the story dull, dry, and uninspiring.  I doubt Jane Austen is to blame. Of course, this could be one of her lesser achievements turned into a twenty-first-century adaptation that isn’t the most memorable.

Xavier Samuel plays a rather dashing Reginald De Courcy who falls for Lady Susan, to the horror of his family. He, by all accounts, is in his young twenties, while the Lady must be in her mid-thirties with a scandalous reputation. Kate Beckinsale is her usual beautiful self, however, her hair appeared a mess through most of the production. In fact, most of the ladies had rather wild hair, encircled with ribbon headbands.

I don’t know.  Perhaps I was expecting a swoon-worthy romance and felt disappointed over a woman that I did not find endearing or likable. Perhaps, I’m just starved for another Mr. Knightly, Mr. Darcy, or Captain Wentworth to sweep me off my feet with words of endearment that go down in history. None of those elements are alive in this tale and hence lies my deep disappointment. Perhaps, I should have read the original work first.

Emma the Movie (1996) vs. Emma (ITV 1996) vs. Emma the BBC Series (2009)

Kernel Tossing – Movie 5 – Series 4 – ITV 3

emma-2009-serialI just finished completely watching the 2009 BBC Emma, after only having seen portions. I’ve watched the 1996 movie versions more times than I can remember. Also, ITV in 1996 released another Emma.

Of course, most of you die-hard period drama and Jane Austen fans have no doubt watched all of these adaptations until you ran out of popcorn and tissues. Nevertheless, there will always be a new generation sucked into period drama asking about these portrayals. In case you read my blog ten years from now, here is my two cents worth.

My feelings about these two versions bring me to the lyrics, “Twisted every way, what answer can I give?” (Phantom of the Opera wiggling it’s way into my review again.) At times like these, I fear offending fans. It’s as bad as answering the question — who is your favorite Darcy — and then not answering Colin Firth. On the other hand, it can be a good thing that we have choices representing our romantic heroes. You get three kinds of Emmas, Mr. Knightley’s, and the remaining cast of characters in Jane Austen’s story of ill-fated matchmaking.

Emma-1996-one-sheet-poster-001So which one do I like the best? Okay, I’ll admit it — the movie version. Mostly because of Jeremy Northam’s portrayal of Mr. Knightly, and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Emma.  However, it rates the lowest among public opinion on IMDb.

I agree the series has its merits as well. I’ve always like Romola Garai, whose smile is stunning. She’s a perky misguided Emma even though reviews paint her otherwise with some hating her constant eye rolling. In my opinion, the chemistry and attraction between Emma and Knightly (played by Jonny Lee Miller) lack in the television version. Of course, I could be partial to Northam’s smoldering looks. I mean when he was in his younger years, who wouldn’t? His voice is enough to melt the winter’s snow.

Another good point, of course, is the length and slower portrayal of the story in the series. Scenes are longer and set in different settings than the movie. Some of the other characters that were cast in the series I frankly like better than in the movie, i.e. Frank Churchill, Mr. and Mrs. Elton, and Miss Bates. The remaining characters in the series, I prefer better in the movie version. Well, gosh, that sure puts my preferences in a pickle. Too bad I couldn’t mix and match and pick the cast I loved the best on my own. I’d make them do a new version just for me.

emma beckensaleAnd last but not least is the ITV version of Emma with Kate Beckinsale as Emma and Mark Strong as Mr. Knightly. I know that this is a favorite of many as well.  However, I will admit that it is not mine.  I think that I am terribly spoiled with new and more up-to-date cinematography.  The costumes, settings, and terrible sound quality detract from the story.  As much as I enjoy Kate, the other cast of characters is not my favorite.  Mr. Knightly does not “float my boat,” to quote Miss Price on Lost in Austen. What I find interesting is that both this ITV version and the movie version came out in the same year.  I don’t quite understand the timing.

So let’s survey this one. What version do you like better? Vote below and have fun.  Are their more versions of Emma?  Yes.  One in 1948 (film), 1960 (television series), and 1972 (television series).   For a list of all the Austen adaptations of her various stories, here is a great page on Wikipedia.

Oh, and my favorite Darcy is Elliot Cowan. (I can hear the moans across the internet.) I mean, who cannot like that shirt scene in the lake while Miss Price has her Colin Firth moment?

Coming up – those multiple versions of other Austen greats.  Where’s the popcorn?