Persuasion 2007 Review

14 Apr

Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel and just one of my favorite books of all-time. The 1995 version is one of my favorite movies. When I heard about the new ITV version coming out in 2007, I had really high hopes and couldn’t wait to see another spin on the story. And then it came out and I watched it and…let’s just say, I was not impressed.

I wanted to like it. I really did. I just watched this for the third time for the review. I was hoping that I would find more to like with each rewatch but unfortunately they had the opposite effect. I just found more things that I hated! What do I hate? Just the script, the cast, and the direction. So yeah, um…pretty much everything. Was there anything I liked about it? Well, the music was nice and the cinematography was pretty (aside from the overuse of shaky cam). And a couple of the side characters were well-acted. Hmm…that’s about it!

The adaptation suffers first of all from being too short. It just feels so truncated and rushed and so many of my favorite bits from the book were left out or just ruined. It didn’t seem like the creators cared about the story at all. With only a couple exceptions, I hated the cast. I don’t know if the actors or the writing or directing are to blame, but the performances left a lot to be desired. Everything just felt off. I tried not to compare it too much to the 1995 version and even though I couldn’t help but do that at some points, I just hate this version on its own. Whatever you do, don’t accuse me of disliking it only because of the 1995 version. While it certainly pales in comparison to that version, my hate stems from this just being a poor adaptation of the book, and a poor movie in itself.

The Characters

Sally Hawkins as Anne Elliot

A huge disappointment. First of all, her hair was always tightly slicked back with a thick layer of grease. You can’t make the “historically accurate” argument because NONE OF THE OTHER CHARACTERS HAS GREASY HAIR. And at first I thought it would be like this to be a big contrast for when she gets back her bloom after Lyme, but she doesn’t! She finally has a better hairstyle at the very end but it’s too late. Anne is supposed to be pretty and Sally Hawkins is usually good-looking, but they made her look gross in this for some reason! She also played the character as a total wimp who was always crying over Wentworth. For heaven’s sake,  Anne was not THAT depressed! She also writes in a diary as a way to tell the viewers her thoughts and often looks right at the camera. That reminded me of MP 99 and I’m not a fan!

Rupert Penry-Jones as Frederick Wentworth

He’s really good-looking, but I can’t believe with that perfect, pale, unblemished complexion, he was at sea for the last eight years. Right…His character also was given pretty much nothing interesting to do in this. Pretty flat and boring so I’m not sure why everyone was crazy over him. Dull as dishwater, if you ask me.

Alice Krige as Lady Russell

One of the few decent performances in the whole movie! For some reason it comes as a total surprise to her in the beginning that Sir Walter is in debt and the Elliots will have to leave Kellynch.

Anthony Head as Sir Walter Elliot

They did something different with his character from the usual foppish buffoon. He was actually a bit more menacing. He’s still vain but he shouts a lot and I think I would be really afraid of him if I were Anne!

Julia Davis as Elizabeth Elliot

This actress’s performance was by no means bad (certainly an improvement from the way the 1995 character) but she was just way too old. She looked almost as if she could be Anne’s mother rather than an older (by only two years!) sister. And she was in a terrible wig too.

Mary Stockley as Penelope Clay

Who is this pretty young woman? Surely not Mrs. Clay? You’ve gotta be joking, right?

Tobias Menzies as William Elliot

He was actually another decent one. While I think Sam West gave a good performance, he didn’t have the right look. This guy is much more attractive.

Nicholas Farrell and Stella Gonet as Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove

Thankfully the line about their largeness was left out, as they’re both so slim. I actually liked the little bit of them we saw in this. But it was just a little bit.

Sam Hazeldine and Amanda Hale as Charles and Mary Musgrove

I hope this picture gives a good idea of the impression I got from them. Mary was easily the worst performance out of the lot. In fact, probably one of the worst acting performances I’ve ever seen. She made Mary seem mentally deranged in some way, always twitching and jerking her body about. Her delivery was horrible- like a warped imitation of Sophie Thompson. I don’t know what they were going for here. And Charles just seemed like a dunderhead. I doubt he even realized Mary was only faking sick!

Rosamund Stephen and Jennifer Higham as Henrietta and Louisa Musgrove

These two were okay, but they didn’t come to life for me the way they did in 1995. Henrietta seemed to like Wentworth but there was never any question of her wavering on her understanding with Charles Hayter (he’s never seen).

Joseph Mawle as Harry Harville

Yes, they gave him the name Harry in this one. (Just wait till you see what they named another character!) He is entirely in Wentworth’s confidence here and already knows about Anne when they first meet. Wentworth indeed makes all his intentions absolutely clear to Harville throughout the story so nothing comes as a surprise. For some reason he appears to be a bachelor in this, so I was surprised none of the ladies went after him, given how handsome he was!

Finlay Robertson as James Benwick

This is one of the few bits of casting I preferred to 1995. He is more age appropriate to the character. His part was really small and unfortunately the majority of it was in one great butchering of a scene. Namely, the constancy conversation. Yes, for some reason in this version, Anne has the talk with him at Lyme and Wentworth is clearly out of earshot. WTF???

Marion Bailey and Peter Wight as the Crofts

Are those Wentworth’s parents in there? Oh, those are the Crofts…hmmm. The Crofts here never seem to get as close to Anne as they do in the book or other versions and not as much emphasis is made on their happy marriage.

Maisie Dimbleby as Harriet Smith

Yes, you read that right- they actually called her Harriet Smith in this. Was that supposed to be an in-joke? I certainly didn’t laugh at that or the incomprehensible scene she has at the end either. Just you wait. Her backstory with Mr. Elliot was cut as well.

WTF? Scenes, AKA Stuff I Hated

This version is full of several scenes that just made me cry out WTF or scratch my head in confusion. I’ve already mentioned the constancy conversation at Lyme, but there are plenty more!

The Opening Scene

Anne is rushing around Kellynch apparently taking inventory of items that the servants are packing up. She doesn’t really seem to be writing anything though, just scratching the pen on the page at random intervals. She runs out of ink and there just happens to be a servant conveniently standing in the corner with an inkwell for a refill. WTF? Was the servant just made to stand there all day, hoping that someone would walk by in need of ink? I don’t understand.

Anne the Surgeon

When little Charles dislocates his collar bone, Anne rushes to help, despite being in the middle of changing for the party. She doesn’t seem to be the least bit embarrassed to be seen in her underwear in front of Charles and his father and none of them seems to care either! Then the worst happens: with Mr. Musgrove’s assistance, she sets little Charles’s collar bone, in her underwear! WTF? Since when has Anne had medical training? They couldn’t wait for the apothecary? She couldn’t have put some clothes on?

Rest Assured, Charles is not a Bigamist

When Wentworth asks Louisa when Charles proposed to Anne, she can only reply, “I do not exactly know, but before he married Mary.” Wow, thanks for clearing that up, Louisa! I’m sure Wentworth was thinking that it was AFTER he married Mary and that sneaky Charles was trying to commit bigamy. WTF?

Wentworth “Helping” Anne into the Carriage

The scene where Wentworth helps Anne into the Crofts’ gig is supposed to be a really touching moment and makes Anne think that perhaps he still notices and cares for her a bit after all. Not here. He doesn’t covertly tell them to take Anne, they just ask to take her for some reason. Then he plops her down “like a sack of potatoes,” to quote Julie. It looks quite uncomfortable for both parties and not romantic at all! Also for some reason, she’s behind the Crofts and so it doesn’t feel like she’s quite included to me.

Louisa’s Fall

The whole direction of this scene was off. You don’t see the fall at all. The helplessness and desperation the other characters besides Anne exhibit in the book is gone and everyone rushes to her aid, even Mary. It seems that Anne’s cool head in a time of crisis was not even really needed. She does tell Benwick to get the surgeon and Wentworth to press his cravat against the wound, which is actually bleeding. However, he was already in the process of doing that, so I don’t know why she needed to tell him. Afterwards, there is no crying or hysterics and everyone only seems mildly upset by the situation. WTF?

Mrs. Smith’s Miraculous Recovery!

Yes, that is Mrs. Smith walking with Anne. Wow, either Mrs. Rooke is a miracle worker or the Bath waters really do have healing powers! She made it just in time to tell Anne of Mr. Elliot’s devious plans. He even planned to make Mrs. Clay his mistress after being married to Anne!

The Bath Marathon

Probably the worst scene in the whole adaptation is the Bath Marathon. They truly butchered the ending. First Anne tells Wentworth that she is not engaged to Mr. Elliot and he leaves the house. Anne is interrupted by Mrs. Musgrove and Henrietta. Despite being only FEW SECONDS behind, Wentworth is nowhere to be seen when she goes outside. Naturally Anne thinks the logical thing to do is to run all over the city like a chicken with her head cut off and just happens to run into Mrs. Smith (see above). Wentworth is no longer at his lodgings when she gets there, but somehow had time to stop and write THE LETTER, which he entrusted to Harville. Anne reads the letter as she runs to find the Crofts, because Wentworth left to take the waters with them. Yet when she reaches the Crofts, they say he’s gone back to her house! She finally reaches him outside the house where he’s casually chatting with Charles. WTF????? Never mind how out of character and inappropriate Anne running all over the streets of Bath is, the scene just doesn’t make any sense! How did Anne not bump into Wentworth anywhere? How did he have time to go home, write the letter, go out with the Crofts, and make it back to Anne’s house without breaking a sweat while Anne is running for her life? Does he have super-human speed? Then to top things off, he and Anne come to an understanding and share a disgusting, drawn-out kiss as Anne is sweaty and panting from the run and Wentworth won’t even bend down all the way to kiss her. WTF??

The Ending

Wentworth BUYS KELLYNCH as a wedding present for Anne. WTF? Kellynch is entailed on Mr. Elliot! And there’s no way Wentworth’s fortune was enough to pay off Sir Walter’s debts and buy the estate. You’ve got to be kidding me! If we put all the WTF-ness aside, it would actually be a sweet scene. Anne has finally washed her hair and it looks much more flattering. The two share a nice kiss this time and then dance. I don’t know if it was period correct for them to waltz or not, but it would have been really a romantic ending, since Anne had given up dancing. Except wait, they never included the lines about Anne giving up dancing! What an opportunity they missed!

Conclusions

RAWR! This last viewing made me want to turn into the Hulk almost as badly as MP 1999. It had such potential but it was all wasted. In some parts it seemed like they were copying 1995, and in others it was as if they were trying too hard to be different. I just don’t understand. I would actually rank this in my bottom five Austen adaptations, sadly. Even the 1971 version, dull as it was, was better than this.


My Rating:  4/10
, for the few decent performances and good music.

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19 Responses to “Persuasion 2007 Review”

  1. Julie April 14, 2011 at 2:50 PM #

    Needless to say, I agree with pretty much everything.

    And thanks for the shout-out. I am honored.

    • Monica thames August 27, 2013 at 11:20 PM #

      Yes, so sad! Greasy hair and all, you have it on the money. And using Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” was totally cheesy.

  2. fourgreytowers September 17, 2011 at 2:34 PM #

    Hi Laura,
    I found your blog randomly when searching google for anyone else disturbed by Sally Hawkins’ greasy hair in Persuasion & had to comment! I couldn’t agree more with your review (& you had me laughing out loud for much of it). Persuasion is my favourite book of all time and here’s hoping there will one day be another adaptation to match the 1995 version. Thanks for writing this – sums up all the things which bugged me as well about the 2007 version (from the greasy hair to the appallingly tacky running around Bath looking for superman) – nice to know it wasn’t just me.
    Gina

  3. Malena April 12, 2012 at 8:02 PM #

    I agree with much of your review but I just wanted to comment on your views about Mrs. Smith’s “recovery.” It’s not as if she was a cripple. At their reunion she tells Anne she’s much better. I don’t see why someone who’s recovering from illness can’t go for a walk. True though…not sure how she got to that area of town. But she had to tell Anne, so maybe she got a cab…or a chair.

    • marspeach August 10, 2012 at 11:58 AM #

      Mrs. Smith IS a cripple! From the book, “She had had difficulties of every sort to contend with, and in addition to these distresses had been afflicted with a severe rheumatic fever, which, finally settling in her legs, had made her for the present a cripple.”

      Perhaps they made her illness different in this one? Either way, it was stupid.

      • dreshack7376 August 17, 2012 at 11:26 PM #

        I actually loved the 2007 version. I’m sure it was because of the eye candy that is “Rupert Penry Jones.”. I do agree with your review of Persuasion though. I definitely hated the Mary character’s performance. Anne definitely never showed signs of a returned bloom. I have seen the 1995 version, and I thought the characters were too old and too rough on the eyes. I do have to point out that Captain Wentworth did seem to covertly tell his sister to take Anne with them. If you look at the beginning of the scene, it is vaguely implied, but almost missed. Overall I loved the film, but I do agree it left a lot to be desired. I really enjoyed your review, and I believe you nailed every problem I had with the film as well.

  4. virginie June 18, 2013 at 12:11 AM #

    I have just got hold of a copy of this film thanks to your review. I had never heard of it and can’t bear to let an Austen adaptation go unwatched. So far I agree with everything you’ve said except I think Sophie Hawkins is believably beautiful as Anne and I don’t even have an issue with her hair. Oh well!

    My biggest concern so far is I’ve just arrived at the dinner scene where Captain Wentworth outlines not only that he’s looking for a wife, but also what he’s specifically looking for — in a way that can only cause pain to Anne. This conversation seems horribly anachronistic for the both the period and for the novel, I can’t imagine any gentlemen discussing his desire to find a wife in front of a large group of mixed company and so many new acquaintances. I also can’t believe he would be deliberately cruel to Anne. Maybe I’m wrong?

    Anyway, I’ll keep watching, and thank you for this review.

  5. JennyS July 6, 2013 at 2:57 AM #

    Thanks for your review! I also have to say I agree entirely. The thing that upset me the most about the 2007 version (besides Anne’s hair) is that at times it seems that the 2007 screenwriter never actually read the book, but instead just watched the 1995 version. The conversation when Anne is told she is going to Uppercross instead of Bath was straight from the 1995 movie, as was the gentle “someone must take leave of all the houses” – but those scenes were at least alluded to in the book. What really got me was that nowhere in the book does Admiral Croft offer Kellynch back to Anne! That plot point was added in the 1995 version (which I disliked – but I’m a purist) and then they copied it into the 2007 version! Oy. Am I wrong? Did I miss it in the book (which I’ve read 10 times). I find that so offensive. Does nobody read Austen anymore?

    • SbMuppet September 30, 2015 at 10:43 PM #

      The part about the Adm. Offering to cancel the lease was in the original/unpublished Austen ending.

  6. susan bagby August 25, 2013 at 4:20 PM #

    Appreciate many of the comments on this site. Could not understand why Sally Hawkins presented such a haltingly, dull performance; she seemed almost mentally challenged in this performance; her facial expressions were bewildering and annoying, as if everything and everyone surprised and confused her. She didn’t look at all attractive, kept her mouth open nearly the whole movie in the oddest pose, and seemed ill at ease, dull, and nearly stupid. Her contorted and poorly timed facial expressions, homely hair, and disengaged manner drove me nuts. As many times as she was insulted and reacts passively the performance is just unconvincing. Some of the secondary characters were disappointing as well. Loved the book, but found this movie disappointing mainly because of Hawkins’ weird and very distracting performance.

  7. Monica thames August 27, 2013 at 11:22 PM #

    Ugh. So sad!

  8. LD August 30, 2013 at 8:45 AM #

    Your entire review had me ROTFLMAO. I agreed wholeheartedly with the things you mentioned, though. The only things I disagreed with was that Wentworth was dull and that Hawkins’ Anne Eliott was “gross-looking” (lol).

    All-in-all, excellent (and hilarious) review for a crappy adaptation 🙂

  9. Mona October 22, 2013 at 2:30 PM #

    I love this book and have read it many, many times, so I watched this adaptation with much hope a few weeks ago. Needless to say, I was horrified. Your review is pretty spot-on. I think Anne was completely miscast and the hair is absolutely disastrous. The liberal plot changes were disappointing and heartbreaking to an Austen fan… especially the absurd marathon complete with stupid shaky camera technique. The only point where I differ is the casting of Captain Wentworth – Rupert Penry-Jones leaves me a blushing fool, and though they’ve dumbed the character down, I’m fine staring at him standing about looking pretty. Mary is a disgrace. I don’t think the screenwriter has ever read more than a sparknotes summary of this beautiful book. Blech.

  10. Olivia Giles November 4, 2013 at 8:31 PM #

    Great review.

  11. Hanham March 26, 2015 at 11:05 AM #

    The ending of this version was closer to Miss Austen’s original ending for the book, which she rewrote because she thought it ‘too flat’. If she had written the Bath Marathon, I expect she would have written to a friend in Bath for her to work out the timings.

    How did Louisa jump off The Cob forwards, yet land on her back?

  12. Emily June 8, 2015 at 4:52 PM #

    Yes yes yes. A thousand times yes. Sally Hawkins’s version of Anne was a person whom no one could fall in love with, and not just because of her dowdy looks, but her utter lack of personality in this film. I don’t understand why screenwriters read “past her bloom” and think “ahh, it’s the ugly chick gets the price. Fair enough, bring out the sackcloth.” Anne is supposed to be very pretty and elegant and intelligent, but tired and resigned after her disappointment. In Wentworth’s presence, she regains her bloom and good looks so much that she has strange men (Mr Elliot) attracted to her even without knowing who she is. This adaptation has her in baggy colorless sacks like a poor servant, and her hair, as you said, slicked back in a hideously unflattering style, and then she spends the entire movie with her mouth gaping open!! When you put her next to Rupert PJ, it looks outrageous that he should ever have been in love with her. Even 1995, which was very good, made the mistake of casting a homely woman (sorry Ms Root!!) who was quite old. IMO Anne should be basically like what Jane Bennett would be if she were forced to give up Bingley — quiet, retiring, withdrawn, but still sweet, pretty in an older way, and taking care of nieces and nephews, etc. Anyway, this Anne kept crying, but not sweet single tears, but scrunch-face “uglycrying” as they say. I’m sorry to be so harsh, but it is important in a romance for the audience to fall in love with both characters — so we need at least some personality to balance out the looks. And it’s a shame because Sally Hawkins is pretty enough to have done the role perfectly, if she had acted like a normal person, and been well dressed and coiffed and made to look as lovely as she is.

    Arg. The rest – the shaky cam, the running, the kiss, has all been said. I find this film just unwatchable.

    • Olivia Giles June 8, 2015 at 5:49 PM #

      I liked Captain Wentworth in this, because I like that actor, but i couldnt see him as a captain, he was too white for a start, and a bit wishy washy, they were hard men back then. They had to be.
      Generally I like Sally Hawkin’s, she’s been amazing in other work but I couldnt see the attraction, and why make her a doctor? How would she learn all that shes the daughter of a Baronette.
      There were some scenes that sucked the drama out of the words by putting them in the wrong place. There is a scene which is meant to be overheard by the captain and clearly it wasn’t, and it was said by te wrong person.
      And I hated, and I mean hated, the running, what the hell was all that about? Elizabeth Bennett runs, Anne Elliot does not.

  13. ctjbush April 16, 2016 at 8:16 PM #

    I just recently watched this version of Persuasion, and I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I have read the book twice and seen the earlier video version with Hinds. I liked this 2007 version. I thought the characters were well selected, and that the scenery, music, especially the music, the scenery (How did they film the actors by the sea with its waves crashing over the seawall?) and just the overall presentation of the film. The finishing run was funny but helped me realize how much Anne was not going to blow this chance of being with her beloved Captain. The long, drawn-out kiss (spittle and all) was nice. The final scene of seeing her wedding present was great.

  14. Anja June 28, 2016 at 12:32 AM #

    Fun to read the original reviews and the comments. This Persuasion was mixed for me, but the positives loomed larger after seeing it for about the fifth time. I agree with everyone about the distracting unpleasantness of Sally’s hairstyle – thats a genuine WTF. And rupert, well his eyecandiness makes me ready to forgive many a thing if the need should arise. I think its OK to compare it with the 1995 version because we see things in contrast. Rupert had a modern feel than Ciaran. Ciaran really had the smoulder. Amanda was a bit too homely and mature in her presence – but I must admit it would be interesting to see a love story around such a character in any case. Sally was more tender and fresh but yes, she needed a little more..structural dignity to counterbalance her mushy vulnerability. Just a little more. Still her lovely voice appeals. I loved the visuals and settings and music. They really elevated the experience for me. Except…Beethoven – the “modern composer” at Bath. That was a tad out of place for me but i enjoyed the impulse behind it to experiment with the new.

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