Saturday, January 27, 2007

Sense and Sensibility (1995)

This is my favourite Jane Austen adaptation so I will gush, particularly after the last few I have watched. Sense and Sensibility tells the plight of the Dashwood women after Mr Dashwood dies with his estate entailed to his eldest son from his first marriage. The novel (and this film) centres on the two very different eldest daughters, Elinor who represents sense and Marianne who represents sensibility. Both Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet play the Elinor and Marianne superbly and capture the different natures of each, but also the way in which each relies on the other.

As a whole the film is fantastically cast. Harriet Walter is the fabulously mean and manipulative Fanny Dashwood (their sister-in-law) and one wants to stick a fork up her nose every time she speaks. Imogen Stubbs plays Lucy Steele with just the right mix of saccharine surface and bitchy core. Robert Hardy and Elizabeth Spriggs are the incredibly heart Sir John and Mrs Jennings, while Imelda Staunton is a superlative talkative Charlotte Palmer. The funniest and warmest cameo must be Hugh Laurie as the dry and unresponsive Mr Palmer.

And the leading men? I’m not a Hugh Grant fan myself but hurray for him as Edward Ferrars, who suites the slightly comic bemused Englishman act and walks like he has pins in his breeches. Greg Wise is a wildly sexy Willoughby, whose romantic entrance makes your heart plummet. He also carries off being dastardly in London. Alan Rickman is achingly sensational as the dry and rather repressed Brandon, after all who can be unmoved when he is such distress (and slight undress) when Marianne is ill?

The real stars are the script and direction. It manages to be humorous and moving, often within moments of each other, and captures the tedium of their life in the country so well without over emphasising. Willoughby is a big event precisely because Marianne has nothing to do. The Dashood family is tenderly played and much of the humour derives from their exchanges – getting a sense of how well they know and care about each other. The ball in London is hot and oppressive and things are dirty (there is horse poo). My favourite scene is when Elinor sits on the stairs drinking a cup of tea when he mother and two sisters have retreated into their rooms crying.

Directed - Ang Lee
Writer - Jane Austen (novel), Emma Thompson (screenplay)
Producer - Lindsay Doran
Music - Patrick Doyle

Kate Winslet - Marianne Dashwood
Emma Thompson - Elinor Dashwood
Hugh Grant - Edward Ferrars
Alan Rickman - Col. Christopher Brandon
Greg Wise - John Willoughby

Buy in the UK

Buy in the US

All images copyright © 1995 Columbia Pictures

Next – those hero moments for Edward Ferrars, Colonel Brandon and Willoughby.


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