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.
Deadline reported further casting in the upcoming Netflix adaptation of Persuasion. Henry Golding, one of the leads of the delightful Crazy Rich Asians, will play Mr. Elliot. (Much of Janeite Twitter rejoiced at first at the idea of him playing Captain Wentworth, but oh well. The article reports, “I hear what attracted Golding to the role was the opportunity to play against type; Mr. Elliot being the callous and classic Austen foil.”)
At first we were quite excited and instantly revised our previous mixed reaction to this adaptation. Then we read the accompanying article…
In the Ron Bass and Alice Victoria Winslow penned script, Anne Elliot is an unconforming woman with modern sensibilities, living with her snobby family who are on the brink of bankruptcy.
What? What? What are these people doing to Persuasion? Unconforming? Modern sensibilities? Are filmmakers congenitally incapable of creating a strong female character who isn’t “unconventional” too? All they had to do was, you know, copy Jane Austen, who did it several times! And what does that mean, anyway, “unconforming”?
And why in the name of Rupert Penry-Jones are they making what will clearly be a terrible adaptation of an Austen novel and casting a really hot actor in it? Why?
Also this news about Unconforming Anne Elliot makes us wonder once again if it’s a period-set or modern-set film. But our questions remain. Quiet, introspective, intelligent, strongly moral women with quiet senses of humor exist in 2021, too. But if it’s period-set, we suppose that means she will go out without a bonnet and her hair all ahoo, or refuse to wear her corset so tightly laced it causes her skin to bleed.
We who love Persuasion are wallowing in adaptations these days! Varietyreports that Dakota Johnson is set to star in an adaptation of Persuasion currently in development for Netflix. It is unclear if this is meant to be a period-set adaptation or a modern day-set adaptation, and in either event is a bit of overkill as we’ve already had a modern-set Persuasion adaptation earlier this year and there’s a period-set adaptation meant for theaters that, if not in production, appears to be very close to it.