The Great Irony of This New, Not Quite Modern Adaptation of Jane Austen's Last Novel
“Persuasion,” is that it communicates its strained relationship to its 19th-century source material in a repressed, passive-aggressive manner—an approach that is well suited to Austen’s sharp view of society.
The film does not take a creative leap to transfer the beloved story to the present day.
Instead, in curiously excruciating fashion, the director, screenwriter
And Starr alludes to his trouble with Georgian-era social norms from within the novel's period setting.
Both the film and the novel begin in the early 1800s, with the story's heroine, Anne Elliot (Dakota Johnson).
After her father spends the family's savings, English goes to the countryside to visit her sister Mary (Mia McKenna-Bruce).
Anne is an unmarried woman fortunate enough to be honored by her blue-blood relationship—or, at least, considered useful.
But while addressing the camera directly, Anne admits that she is haunted by the memory of a love affair.
She is persuaded to end up with an enterprising but luckless sailor, Frederick Wentworth (Cosmo Jarvis).
Anne is now alone, and her remorse only grows when Wentworth returns to the country as a wealthy naval captain.