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A Desperate Plea for More Austen

Just finished reading Persuasion. If you’ve ever read it, then you are probably feeling so jealous of me right now, in the bloom of first-time Persuasion completion. I have only recently decided to become crazy obsessed with Jane Austen, after I rewatched all the film adaptations of Pride & Prejudice (and everything else with Colin Firth in it, for good measure), and decided I had better legitimize my film binge by reading the novel.

Sense & Sensibility and Emma soon followed, and then I finally hit Persuasion. The best of the Big Four, in my (obviously correct) opinion. Why had I never even heard of this book before?! My guess, no good film adaptations. I’m of the Clueless generation; why has no one bothered to reboot this of all the novels? Possibly because it is already so relevant. A reboot might seem disrespectful of its undimmed brilliancy. But come on, so many Pride & Prejudices, can’t we just have one more Persuasion…(btw, I’d be fine with a new P&P film adaptation as well. I don’t think annual adaptations is an unreasonable request, Hollywood. Or, BBC. For your consideration).

To help Hollywood & the BBC along, I have some suggestions about Persuasion on the big screen (or slightly smaller screen, as TV has become). One, the book did NOT feel so dramatic. I mean, there was a lot of drama. and desperation. and feelings. and probably fog; this is England. But, the 2007 BBC Persuasion with Sally Hawkins was such a downer, and I think the spirit of the book is ultimately comedic. Like Emma, like Clueless, like Sense & Sensibility, like Bridget Jones’s Diary, for goodness sake. Jane Austen’s wit was lost. The only comedy relief in that version was Mary, played by Amanda Hale, who succeeded in becoming a caricature, which was intended. In the next adaptation, let’s have a George Clooney type playing Sir Walter, because that’s how I pictured him, comically vain and handsome. Or let’s have Hugh Grant in that role, since he’s already got the appropriate accent, and he is no stranger to Austen. We should, in that case, also have Colin Firth somewhere. Admiral Croft, maybe? Mr. Musgrove? It doesn’t matter. He’ll totally nail the role whatever it is.

Two, this is not a long book. I think a film adaptation could remain pretty faithful to the plot and sequence of the book without exceeding a normal runtime. I don’t know why the 2007 version had so many rewrites and mixups. Don’t mess with perfection. Why did it turn into Run, Lola, Run at the end? That wasn’t in the book. I just read it today. I know.

And finally, you really gotta cast Anne Elliot properly. If time travel is an option, let’s get mid-90s, Sabrina-era Julia Ormond in there. Honestly, she’s barely aged. Maybe current day Julia Ormond is my second choice. If both Julia and Julia refuse, let’s aim for mature 20’s, able to pull off vulnerable and invisible and underappreciated, and maybe steer clear of anyone in the Harry Potter movies or Downton Abbey. Who does that leave? Also, maybe we should go redhead. I pictured her as a redhead. But there are few protagonists that I DON’T picture as redheads. Oh I know: Lily Collins. Not a redhead, but she’ll do.

Also, BBC take note, Cillian Murphy as Mr. Elliot. Because he can play hot & evil so well. Also, put Cillian Murphy in more things. Full stop.

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