At last, it’s here! I had an issue with my computer which is all cleared up now so I was finally able to rewatch Mansfield Park 2007.
Gah, what can I say about this adaptation. The good? Well…it was better than the Patricia Rozema version! And…a couple of the actors were well-cast. And…that’s about it. Yup, it was a dud. Patricia Rozema made a terrible movie, but you could tell she cared about the movie she made. This one…it was as if their hearts weren’t in it. The script was dull and the budget was almost nonexistent. Everything took place in the same couple of rooms or on the lawn at Mansfield Park. That means no Portsmouth and no Prices, other than Fanny and William, and no trip to Sotherton. And the casting and characterizations…most were decent (with a couple bizarre exceptions) but nothing amazing.
Billie Piper as Fanny Price
This choice definitely falls under the “bizarre” category for me. It was really a WTF moment for me when I found out she’d been cast. I thought she was pretty good in Doctor Who, but Fanny Price?? This is a horrible thing for me to say, but I thought she looked more like a prostitute than Fanny Price, with the cleavage, the bleach blond hair (but still black eyebrows!), and the buck tooth veneers. The screenwriter really didn’t seem to know what to do with her character either. She had moments where she was quiet and shy and observant and others where she was running around laughing like Patricia Rozema’s Fanny. They wanted to stay truer to the book character, I guess, but were still afraid to keep Fanny really as she was. Really, the only compliment I can give is that she and the actress who played young Fanny really looked alike.
Black Ritson as Edmund Bertram
He was actually one of the decent ones (but I liked him better as Mr. Elton). The hair was a bit “emo” but he did a pretty good job. Interesting that I thought the Edmund character was good in both of the horrible adaptations. The scene where he realizes he loves Fanny because she tells Lady Bertram to use a purple stitch instead of maroon is hilariously stupid.
Hayley Atwell as Mary Crawford
Easily the best of the lot! She was charming and always had her “assets” on display so it was easy to see how Edmund fell for her. You could also see her underlying selfishness. Unlike Embeth Davidtz, she also looked the right age. Still, not enough to save the adaptation.
Joseph Beattie as Henry Crawford
Well, he wasn’t very handsome so I guess they got that right. He was good enough in doing everything the script called for him to do, but he didn’t make an impression on me.
Maggie O’Neill as Mrs. Norris
Talk about not making an impression! She was a cold woman, yes, but she was not the bullying busybody of the book. Her awful personality was toned down but she looked rather too attractive.
Jemma Redgrave as Lady Bertram
Another “bizarre” characterization for me. She was waaaay too alert and aware of what was going on. She actually knew Fanny was in love with Edmund and played matchmaker at the end? Um, what?? Then they also had a few token scenes of her dozing just so people wouldn’t forget what character she was in the book, I guess.
Douglas Hodge as Sir Thomas Bertram
I actually thought he was decent in showing how Sir Thomas realized he had failed as a father. But we don’t really get to see how authoritarian he is before that- just Fanny mentioning that it was easier after he left for Antigua (without Tom) and then him stopping the play.
Joseph Morgan as William Price
I’m glad they at least included William in the story (but they cut out all the other Prices!), but not glad to see him dance like this. For some reason, Fanny insisted on having a picnic instead of a ball for her coming out party and William thought it would be a good idea to get his groove on, after they played Blind Man’s Bluff. Yeah, I don’t know either.
I was glad that Maria was actually much more beautiful than Julia, but disappointed we never heard anything about what happened to the latter after Maria’s elopement. Yates was cut altogether so did she just come back to the park? She may have been at the wedding in the end but I don’t remember or care enough to recheck! Tom was alright but didn’t go to Antigua. Mr. Rushworth was a good fool. That’s pretty much it. We never get to see the other Prices, as Fanny’s “punishment” for turning down Henry is being forced to stay at Mansfield while the others visit relatives, rather than being sent back to Portsmouth. The Grants were not mentioned at all.
I guess if you’re really turned off by the old-school production values in the 1983 version or you can’t find a copy, it would be better to watch this version than the 1999 one. That version was so horrible though that anything looks better in comparison. I hope one day we get a new full miniseries version that features the “real” Fanny Price as she is in the book.
My Rating: 5/10