Friday, May 15, 2009

Film Review: Persuasion (2007)

How to Ruin Classic Literature in 3 Easy Steps

Hire mediocre actors and give them a dull script, then put in charge the most pretentious director in the history of cinema. The net result is the ruin of a powerful novel by one of literature's greatest writers.

Most Austen adaptations are quite good; this version is dreadful in every respect. The camera work is awful, full of long, swirling shots to no purpose. The acting suffers the same problem with pauses long enough to squeeze in another scene between. The music is incessant and badly chosen, like spending an evening at a Wyndham Hill piano concert. The pace is as if the director tried to make a film not of the early 19th century but in it. He also seems to have confused Austen's Persuasion with Dicken's Bleak House and the mix-up is no benefit to the audience. The combination creates a funeral dirge devoid of Austen's wit, insight, humor, and drama.

We can only be thankful that the planned production of A Passage to India, scheduled to be directed by the same amateur and starring the same lead actress, has been canceled due to lack of funds. Pity it wasn't owing to the producers having screened this film and come to their senses.

If you like Austen, or simply want to avoid being bored and irritated by unending narcissism for nearly two hours, pass. Pick up the 1995 version with Ciaran Hinds instead, which is excellent in every respect.

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