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The Financial Express

Persuasion: A botched Jane Austen adaptation with Netflix formula

| Updated: July 29, 2022 22:35:33


Persuasion: A botched Jane Austen adaptation with Netflix formula

In early 19th century of Britain, women of the aristocratic society had little autonomy over their life. They were seen as a burden to the family if could not be married at their prime age. They had only two ways to escape from family - marriage and death. 

Jane Austen, a contemporary author of that era, explored the lives of these women who could gain social status and security only through marriage with her writings. She is immortalised by her six novels, most notably Pride and Prejudice and Emma

Persuasion is her last novel which was published posthumously in 1817. Netflix adapted this novel into a film starring Dakota Johnson as the lead character Anne Elliott.

Anne Elliott is the middle daughter of Sir Elliott, patriarch of the aristocratic Elliot family, part of the British landed gentry. He is a great admirer of glitters and riches, the rest of the family are nothing short of it. So when Anne falls in love with an ambitious yet penniless navy officer Frederick Wentworth, the family persuades her to call off the marriage to be married to worthy someone else.

Sad and heartbroken, Anne could not get over Wentworth even after eight years. But after a series of events, they cross roads again; spinster Anne has the golden opportunity to reclaim her love, and the now successful Napoleonic war veteran Captain Wentworth has a second chance to ignite an old flame. Will he steer his ship back? The film has the answer, although the readers of the original novel already know it.

Persuasion is a beautiful enough romantic drama if it’s not compared with the Jane Austen novel. But evaluating its adaptation, director Carrie Cracknell changed the characters too much from the source, most notably Anne Elliot. 

Dakota Johnson could not properly portray the original Anne but rather portrayed the Netflix version of it. Director Cracknell introduced the 'breaking the fourth wall' trope for this character, but he might have forgotten that this is Anne Elliot from Jane Austen's Persuasion, not Phoebe Waller-Bridge's character from Fleabag

Excessive breaking of the fourth wall became irrelevant at some points, even abrupting Anne's interaction with other characters in this film.

The settings of this film also felt like Netflix tried to import elements from their controversial Victorian-era drama BridgertonBridgerton controversially portrayed forced diversification, which also happened in Persuasion, introducing characters that were not appropriate for the time depicted.

If the audience overlooks these major drawbacks, Persuasion is a feel-good romantic film to watch. It is a nice film if considered a standard romantic drama, but as an adaptation of the novel Persuasion, it's a disaster.

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