Sunday, December 26, 2010

Review: Sense and Sensibility (1995)

I don't want to get beaten up... but in many ways I prefer the 2008 film to this version of Sense and Sensibility, this is no comment on the acting- the cast is fabulous- simply the fact that the longer, episodic form of the 2008 version gave the story breathing room and allowed for more of the book to be adapted. There were many moments where I thought "Yes, but then in the book ____ happens" or "They didn't ____."
Emma Thompson is dazzling as the quietly struggling Elinor (one of my favorite Austen characters played by one of my favorite actresses), and her screenplay does use a lot of Austen's own lush language to her advantage. Even though her screenplay is limited by the time allowance for the feature film format, she gives great characterization to all the characters. Kate Winslet is excellent as Marianne, very young, which is perfect for the character. There are also some moments where she seems a little bratty, especially toward Elinor, but that fits well and helps create and interesting dynamic between the sisters. Gemma Jones is also admirable in the role of Mrs. Dashwood. She is, as the book describes her, very similar to Marianne in many ways and seems almost half in love with Willoughby herself.

As far as the menfolk go (oh no, I'm getting to the shallow part of my review quicker than I had intended...), Greg Wise is believably dashing as Willoughby and very likable. There are slight hints of his hiding something, but for the most part it is very unexpected in the film when his previous indiscretions come to light. Hugh Grant is classically awkward, but it works very well for the character of Edward Ferrers and his bumbling attempts at communication with Elinor are very sweet and endearing. Alan Rickman is by far the most fabulous of the men in this film. He is passionate, long suffering, and so darn honorable. His facial expressions tell so much emotion, though he is reserved. He is also very pretty, in a totally manly way.

The supporting cast was also very strong. Hugh Laurie makes a brief, but humorous appearance as Mr. Palmer and Imelda Staunton plays his ever chatting wife, Charlotte. Imogen Stubbs as Lucy Steele comes across as calculating and slightly evil- I like this interpretation. Her little chick fight with Fanny, played by Harriet Walter is highly amusing. James Fleet is a good fit as John Dashwood, Elinor and Marianne's hen-pecked half brother. However, I will always prefer Mark Gatiss in the role. Perhaps it is because I like gingers, perhaps it is because I like Mark Gatiss. Who can tell?

Overall, a good adaptation, even if it is a little too condensed. There are some very lush outdoor scenes and some nice interiors as well for those that enjoy historical buildings and furnishings. The only thing it lacked that I so enjoyed in the 2008 version is a sense of darkness and bleakness in the visuals in the beginning. The atmosphere of uncertainty wasn't as obvious, nor was the desperation of the Dashwoods' financial situation. Still, it was enjoyable and is definitely worth the watching, especially if you don't have the time to dedicate to the 2008 mini-series.

However- I must say that in the movie poster Kate Winslet's hair looks like a weird curl helmet, it's much prettier than that in the movie.


  1. Sacriligious! LOL! The 1995 version is one of my favorite movies of all time, not just one of my favorite Austen adaptations. It is condensed, but I think the actors are perfect for their roles and Emma Thompson's screen play captured the escense of the novel in the short time frame. I did like the 2008 version, but after loving the 1995 version since I first saw it in the theatre, I didn't like it as much. Sometimes I wonder if that's what happens . . . you see a movie version and love it so much that nothing after it can quite compare!

  2. I've wondered about that too, though. The 2008 version was the first one I saw, and it was shortly after reading the book for the first time. I have no doubt that this has an effect on how one views a particular adaptation and their preferences for it.
    The mob will come crashing through my door soon, I supposed. :)

  3. I still need to sit down and read more Austen. I've only read Northanger Abbey, and I own all of her novels, and I adore the movies based off of her novels, but I still haven't managed to read any of them.

  4. I haven't seen the 2008 version (yet!) and I really need to re-watch this one as well. Maybe 2011 will be an Austen year for me, seeing as how 2010 turned out to be a Brontë year? :)