Part of the channel ITV’s ‘Jane Austen season’ in 2007, this adaptation of the author’s last novel was decent enough but unfortunately didn’t engage me. I’d hoped that it would give me a new appreciation of the book, which I struggled with a little last year. However, I need to accept that the story is my least favourite of Austen’s.
There are some excellent aspects to this film. Sally Hawkins is perfect as the reserved but kind-hearted Anne Elliot, oppressed by her family and not likely to marry at her advanced age of 27. The locations are wonderful, being (as far as I can tell) the real places from the book. Costumes and interiors, lovely. Anne’s lack of opportunity to express herself in the book is altered, in the form of a diary and more dialogue with friends.
I’m one of those shallow viewers who expects a broodingly romantic, dark-haired hero when it comes to Austen adaptations. I’ve been spoilt by Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Matthew Macfadyen and Alan Rickman. I’m afraid that sandy-haired, stony-faced Rupert Penry-Jones doesn’t do it for me. Moreover, I don’t feel that he and Sally Hawkins have much chemistry in this film. And that kiss at the end… just awkward.
The cinematography was a bit odd. It had an unfinished, documentary feel to it, with the camera wobbling, framing some unusual and informal shots. I’m not sure it suited this kind of film.
I’d only recommend this adaptation for fans of the original book. If you don’t like the book much, you probably won’t like the film.