Sense and Sensibility (2008) short review

4

Yet again, I can’t avoid comparing this with the 1995 version, and again this one comes up lacking. It felt like they were trying too hard to make this feel different from the Emma Thompson film. The editing and dialogue made things feel a bit too rushed. Elinor and Marianne were relatively good. The actor playing Willoughby was NO Greg Wise. Still, if I didn’t have the 1995 version to compare it to, I’d probably like it, and it’s worth a watch. The costuming was nice – wonderful to NOT see yet another Andrea Galer yawner – but there was nothing memorable. Marianne could have put her hair up a bit more.

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Kendra

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Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

4 Responses

  1. B

    Is Edward’s hairstyle accurate? Because he has a part (I agree it’s not so visible), and it seems to me that Regency men didn’t have parted hair. The Edward of the 1995 version also has a kind of part. Is it at least possible for that period?

    Reply
  2. Kristina

    Ang Lee’s S&S is really not a very good adaptation. It’s a nice enough movie, but its tone is far too gooey and saccharine compared to that of the Jane Austen novel, and it omits a number of important characters (e.g., Lady Middleton and Anne Steele) and simplifies several subplots. The 2008 miniseries, on the other hand, retains characters and subplots, and has a somewhat darker and more serious take on the story, which I think is more appropriate. That said, I have strong reservations about its portrayal of one of the key characters, Colonel Brandon, and his relationship to the character of Marianne Dashwood. Although a lot of the problems are not David Morrissey’s fault, but that of the screenwriter, Andrew Davies, that doesn’t make me feel any better about them. For the record:

    There is a disturbing “taming” motif in the 2008 version. Marianne is compared (by her sister) to a wild horse who will learn to “follow” her tamer, and later likened (through a montage) to a trained falcon returning to its master’s hand.
    In the book, the Dashwood family doesn’t actively try to “match” Marianne with Brandon until close to the end of the book. Early on, they merely defend Brandon against Marianne’s assertions that he is “infirm” and too old for love — significantly, they do NOT try to persuade her to think of him as a marriage prospect. Elinor, in Chapter 8, even says to Marianne that she thinks “…thirty-five and seventeen had better not have any thing to do with matrimony together. But if there should by any chance happen to be a woman who is single at seven and twenty, I should not think Colonel Brandon’s being thirty-five any objection to his marrying HER.” (Granted, by the end of the book, Marianne’s family have made a near-complete reversal and have formed “a confederacy against her” and see her as Brandon’s “reward” [Ch. 50], which is VERY disturbing, but that’s a discussion for another day.)

    In the 2008 S&S, however, Marianne’s family explicitly “match” her with Brandon almost from the beginning. Elinor points out that Marianne likes Brandon, and Mrs. Dashwood says to Marianne, “No one is forcing him upon you, my dear, but men of thirty-five have married girls of seventeen before, I believe.” True, they may not be “forcing” Marianne into anything, but they seldom miss an opportunity to promote Brandon as a suitor to Marianne (Elinor, in particular, has a habit of reminding Marianne of Brandon’s “great regard”) and this is all after Marianne has made it clear that she finds such a prospect “mortifying.”

    Brandon inserts himself into things that are none of his business. In the second episode, he takes Willoughby aside at Sir John’s party and demands to know what his intentions are towards Marianne. Yes, Willoughby is a really bad guy, but Brandon shouldn’t know that yet, and his confrontation here just makes him look controlling and patriarchal.
    Brandon starts to remove Marianne’s clothing, stopping himself only when he sees Marianne’s somewhat concerned look. Yes, I realize that, in the film, he was not trying to strip her for sexual reasons, but I think it’s obvious that Andrew Davies wanted the audience to be titillated. IMO, the fact that Marianne is dangerously ill at the time and apparently unable to voice any objection to what Brandon is doing makes this scene neither cute nor sexy. It isn’t at all the same thing as 1995’s version of Mr. Darcy voluntarily diving into his pond, sans coat, waistcoat, and cravat, and accidentally meeting Elizabeth in this state of undress. That isn’t to say that I find the “wet shirt Darcy” scene to be sexy — I actually think it’s gratuitous and silly, but at least it doesn’t annoy me in the way that the aforementioned Brandon scene does.
    In addition to nearly undressing Marianne, Brandon later shuts himself in the room with her (evidently at her request, to be fair), sits on her bed without being asked, and places his hand on hers (again, without being asked to do so), which happens to be resting on her abdomen at the time. This seems inappropriate.

    Reply
  3. Kristina

    Ang Lee’s S&S is really not a very good adaptation. It’s a nice enough movie, but its tone is far too gooey and saccharine compared to that of the Jane Austen novel, and it omits a number of important characters (e.g., Lady Middleton and Anne Steele) and simplifies several subplots. The 2008 miniseries, on the other hand, retains characters and subplots, and has a somewhat darker and more serious take on the story, which I think is more appropriate. That said, I have strong reservations about its portrayal of one of the key characters, Colonel Brandon, and his relationship to the character of Marianne Dashwood. Although a lot of the problems are not David Morrissey’s fault, but that of the screenwriter, Andrew Davies, that doesn’t make me feel any better about them. For the record:

    1) There is a disturbing “taming” motif in the 2008 version. Marianne is compared (by her sister) to a wild horse who will learn to “follow” her tamer, and later likened (through a montage) to a trained falcon returning to its master’s hand.

    2) In the book, the Dashwood family doesn’t actively try to “match” Marianne with Brandon until close to the end of the book. Early on, they merely defend Brandon against Marianne’s assertions that he is “infirm” and too old for love — significantly, they do NOT try to persuade her to think of him as a marriage prospect. Elinor, in Chapter 8, even says to Marianne that she thinks “…thirty-five and seventeen had better not have any thing to do with matrimony together. But if there should by any chance happen to be a woman who is single at seven and twenty, I should not think Colonel Brandon’s being thirty-five any objection to his marrying HER.” (Granted, by the end of the book, Marianne’s family have made a near-complete reversal and have formed “a confederacy against her” and see her as Brandon’s “reward” [Ch. 50], which is VERY disturbing, but that’s a discussion for another day.)

    In the 2008 S&S, however, Marianne’s family explicitly “match” her with Brandon almost from the beginning. Elinor points out that Marianne likes Brandon, and Mrs. Dashwood says to Marianne, “No one is forcing him upon you, my dear, but men of thirty-five have married girls of seventeen before, I believe.” True, they may not be “forcing” Marianne into anything, but they seldom miss an opportunity to promote Brandon as a suitor to Marianne (Elinor, in particular, has a habit of reminding Marianne of Brandon’s “great regard”) and this is all after Marianne has made it clear that she finds such a prospect “mortifying.”

    3) Brandon inserts himself into things that are none of his business. In the second episode, he takes Willoughby aside at Sir John’s party and demands to know what his intentions are towards Marianne. Yes, Willoughby is a really bad guy, but Brandon shouldn’t know that yet, and his confrontation here just makes him look controlling and patriarchal.

    4) Brandon starts to remove Marianne’s clothing, stopping himself only when he sees Marianne’s somewhat concerned look. Yes, I realize that, in the film, he was not trying to strip her for sexual reasons, but I think it’s obvious that Andrew Davies wanted the audience to be titillated. IMO, the fact that Marianne is dangerously ill at the time and apparently unable to voice any objection to what Brandon is doing makes this scene neither cute nor sexy. It isn’t at all the same thing as 1995’s version of Mr. Darcy voluntarily diving into his pond, sans coat, waistcoat, and cravat, and accidentally meeting Elizabeth in this state of undress. That isn’t to say that I find the “wet shirt Darcy” scene to be sexy — I actually think it’s gratuitous and silly, but at least it doesn’t annoy me in the way that the aforementioned Brandon scene does.

    5) In addition to nearly undressing Marianne, Brandon later shuts himself in the room with her (evidently at her request, to be fair), sits on her bed without being asked, and places his hand on hers (again, without being asked to do so), which happens to be resting on her abdomen at the time. This seems inappropriate.

    Reply

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