The State of Persuasion on Film


We’ve seen some discussion and questions about this around the World Wide Web so we thought we would have our share in the conversation.

Many online Austen commentators, including the Editrix, marveled at the sudden spate of Persuasion film adaptations of various kinds under which Hollywood is/soon would be groaning.

First to the gate was Modern Persuasion to provide a bit of levity to the depths of the pandemic. While we found it momentarily amusing, it was far from being the really great adaptation that our favorite Austen novel deserved. Though we remain more than delighted with the excellent 1995 adaptation and frankly need no other, our pointy little ears perked up when we first got word that a new film adaptation of Persuasion, to star Sarah Snook of Succession fame as Anne Elliot and Joel Fry as Captain Wentworth, was in development at Searchlight Pictures. “In development” being the key phrase here; we recommended in the post that our Gentle Readers keep expectations to a minimum and it proved we were right. Deborah Yaffe spotted an article quoting Ms. Snook that the film had been cancelled, to much disappointment.

Before word of the cancellation got out, yet another film adaptation of Persuasion was announced, this time from Netflix, to star Dakota Johnson as Anne and Cosmo Jarvis as Wentworth (and we’re way more excited than we should be that Henry Golding will be playing William Walter “Weasel Boy” Elliot, who is still very much a weasel, but Henry Golding!). That moved forward, filming was completed, curious costumes spotted (by curious we mean kind of ugly, but we suppose it was for Artistic Purposes; if Anne gets a Bath glowup much will be forgiven) and we were all anticipation. Or mostly anticipation. Or at least a little bit anticipation and a little side-eyeing and we swear we are keeping an open mind.

Last week Netflix dropped a preview of its 2022 films, and alert Janeites noticed that Persuasion was not included, and no official release date has been mentioned; it is still listed merely as 2022 on IMdB. However, we remembered seeing an article last year about Richard E Grant, who is playing Sir Walter Elliot (brilliant casting in our oh so humble opinion). He was talking about another project but mentioned Persuasion…and a release date!

Do you know what you’re going to be doing next?

GRANT: I’ve just finished doing the new Jane Austen Persuasion that’s been made for Netflix, with Dakota Johnson and Cosmo Jarvis. That comes out next Easter.

What was that like to do?

GRANT: Well, I play a guy called Sir Walter Elliot, who is the vainest man in all of English literature. His narcissism knows no bounds, which is innately hilarious to me. I had a ball doing it. And Dakota was such good fun to be around. I loved her.

We would take this with a large grain of salt, it is far from official, but it’s a little tidbit we thought we would pass on. We also would not panic about the film not being included in the preview; it’s possible they just forgot to tell Dakota to break the fourth wall and say something about the magic of movies. “Jane Austen never saw a movie but no doubt had she ever learnt, she would have been a true proficient!” Maybe not.

2 thoughts on “The State of Persuasion on Film

  1. I too am not concerned that we won’t see this Persuasion; I take that trailer to have been a precis of some of the top titles, not an exhaustive list of all of them. I’ll grant you that it’s a little puzzling that given the star power, Persuasion isn’t among the top, but I doubt Netflix would have gone to the trouble and expense of shooting it only to leave it unreleased. Easter works for me. . .

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    • From what I’ve seen, I think people are less concerned about it being cancelled than just impatient to know when it will be out! And some annoyance (and perhaps a bit of concern) that it wasn’t included in the preview. I wonder if the film was completed too early to take part in this marketing campaign, which could have come later.

      I am mainly disappointed because there could be some really funny gifs taken from it if they had done the break-the-fourth-wall thing. Let Richard do it, he’s hilarious. The Enola Holmes one was the best.

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