Thursday, October 3, 2013

Sense and Sensibility (1995) Review

This may shock a lot of Jane fans, but until two weeks ago, I hadn't seen Sense and Sensibility (1995).
I know many Janeites who were introduced to the world of Jane Austen by this movie.  I don't think I know any JA fan who hasn't seen this movie.  
Well, now I have.  And I'm going to write a review of it, because it was so good.

Elinor Dashwood (Emma Thompson)
I have a few quibbles with this one.  The casting directors (I think it was the casting directors; I know it was somebody) insisted that Emma Thompson play the role, even though she was thirty-six at the time.  She finally agreed, so they made Elinor twenty-seven instead of nineteen.  This would have made her an old maid in Jane Austen's era.  On one hand, it's more heartbreaking when she discovers Edward is already engaged, because it's like she's been given a second chance at marriage and had it ripped away from her.  On the other hand, it seems a bit unlikely that Marianne would say things like, "Elinor, where is your heart?" to a sister ten years older than herself.  However, nitpicks aside, I loved this performance.

Marianne Dashwood (Kate Winslet)
In my opinion, Kate Winslet absolutely owns this role.  She looks and acts like the Marianne I imagined- she even sounds like "my" Marianne.  She has just the right mix of selfish and unselfishness- I always get angry with her during the scene where she discovers that Lucy's engaged to Edward, but I also feel sorry for her and I really like her when she honestly tries to be more like her older sister.  She made me understand Marianne a lot more.

Margaret Dashwood (Emilie Fran├žois)

I was really, really glad that they developed Margaret's character more.  In the book, she's pretty much just a news (or gossip) bearer.  So I was happy to discover that Margaret actually has a personality. :D

Mrs. Dashwood (Gemma Jones)
 Before this movie, Mrs. Dashwood had always been sort of a two-dimensional character to me.  She was emotional and encouraged Marianne in her dramatic-ness, and she was a widow.  That was all I knew.  Well, when I saw this portrayal, I got to know Mrs. Dashwood a lot better.  I realized what harm she was doing to Marianne by being so over-the-top, and I will definitely see her in a whole new light the next time I read the book.  Gemma Jones did a really good job.

Edward Ferrars (Hugh Grant)
Urgh.  Edward Ferrars.  My least-favorite (and the only actively disliked) Austen hero.  I was curious to see how he'd be portrayed in this one, and again, I was not disappointed.  They made him at least a little more likeable with him actually trying to tell Elinor of his engagement, and Hugh Grant played him perfectly.  He was a lot like the Edward of the book, only they made him a better character, IMO.

Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman)
Again, I loved this portrayal.  The scene where he's bringing Marianne in from the rain is so tear-jerking, he seemed to be the right age, and he just turned in a wonderful performance overall.

John Willoughby (Greg Wise)
Ah, yes.  John Willoughby, the charming rake.  I really liked Greg Wise as Willoughby- he was handsome and charming and he showed just enough slimy weakness to be believable.

Mr. Palmer (Hugh Laurie)
We are in the middle of watching Jeeves and Wooster right now, and I had to give Hugh Laurie as Mr. Palmer special mention.  He was indeed "droll," and his facial expressions, as always, were perfect.  He made me giggle hysterically in the (very little) screen time he got.

Lucy Steele (Imogen Stubbs)
Imogen Stubbs did a great job as Lucy Steele.  She was mean-spirited, slimy, and really, really maddening, but she was still pretty and charming enough that I could understand how Edward could fall in love with her.

Mrs. Jennings and Sir John Middleton (Elizabeth Spriggs and Robert Hardy) 

I loved this portrayal.  Due to the shortness of the film, Mrs. Jennings and Sir John didn't get much screen time, and I believe Lady Middleton was cut out entirely, but the loud laughter and general goodwill (as well as some vulgarity) of the pair made quite a Mrs. Jennings-ish impression.

In Summary... 
I LOVED this movie.  Most, if not all, of the actors were admirably true to Jane Austen's characters, the costumes and sets were gorgeous and (to my limited knowledge) accurate, the script and dialogue were interesting and witty, and the story never dragged.  Great filming, wonderful actors and actresses, and beautiful scenery all combine to make this one of my favorite Austen movies, second only to Emma (2009) and P&P95.

-Miss Jane Bennet


Ivy Miranda said...

Absolute classic!

Miss Jane Bennet said...

I totally agree! :)
Thanks for commenting! :)

Miss Elizabeth Bennet said...

One of my favorite movies! Even though it's not as close to the book as it could have been, it still has the right tone that the 2008 miniseries didn't have.

The picture you have for Margaret Dashwood is actually from the 2008 miniseries of S&S.

Have you seen the 2008 version yet? If you haven't, I would recommend it (though I would skip the first scene).

Miss Jane Bennet said...

Miss Elizabeth,
Thanks for correcting me! I've changed the picture. :)
I actually haven't seen the '08 version yet, but I plan to when I can find the time. :)
Thanks for commenting! :)