Two years ago, Janeites celebrated the 200th birthday of S&S, and this year we are celebrating P&P.    Yes, today marks 200 years since P&P was first published.  The book had been rejected by a publisher in the late 1790s, but a much smarter publisher accepted it for publication on January 28, 1813.  And the world is a better place as a result.

I have been listening to the “readathon” at the Jane Austen Centre website.  It’s been a lot of fun listening to each chapter as read by a different person.  It was supposed to go from 11 a.m. — 11 p.m. GMT, but it’s now 1:30 a.m. GMT on the 29th and there are still at least  6 or 7 chapters left to go.

Just over 2 years ago, I reviewed Pride and Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy.  It’s a movie I really like, and I watch it periodically because I do find it to be so entertaining.

I bought my copy from an LDS (Mormon) website and, as a result, I get emails and other promotions from that site to this day.  That site, DeseretBook.com, sent me an email this morning offering me the chance to buy the movie at the price of $9.99.  The email said that this price is good for today only (but the website itself doesn’t say that), and that it won’t ship for a couple of weeks.  But this movie is hard to find, so I wanted to make sure that everyone who wants a copy is able to order one for their own collection.

Good luck and, if you do buy a copy, please let me know whether or not you liked it.

 

Updated July 22, 2012:  the movie now costs $12.99.  It’s still less than the list price of $19.99 and less than Amazon’s price of $17.01.

I spent part of last weekend with the local JASNA chapter in Clearwater, where we watched a Latina version of Sense & Sensibility called From Prada to Nada.  It stars nobody I’ve ever heard of and I went into it with no preconceived notions whatsoever.  The group I was with had a lovely time, and we thoroughly enjoyed the movie.

With very few exceptions, the skeleton of S&S is still intact.  Nora and Mary Dominguez are the daughters of a rich man in LA.  One day, he suffers a massive heart attack and dies.  At the reading of the will, they learn 2 very surprising things.  First, that they are destitute, since their father was in bankruptcy and second, that he’d had an affair years earlier and they had a half brother named Gabe.  Gabe (= John Dashwood) and his wife, Olivia ( = Fanny Dashwood) buy and sell houses for a living, so they buy the Dominguez home and Olivia kicks out Nora and Mary.  The girls end up moving in with a maternal aunt (= Mrs. Jennings?) in East LA, where they experience massive culture shock.  They are Mexicans who don’t speak Spanish, so they are like the proverbial fish out of water in that part of town.

Mary is a college student, and she falls head over heels for a rich Mexican TA named Rodrigo ( = Willoughby).  He turns out to be married and buys Mary and Nora’s childhood home for his wife.  Nora falls for Olivia’s brother, an attorney named Edward Ferris (close, but no cigar to “Ferrars”), and ends up working for him at his law firm (she quit law school when she learned she was poor).  The Colonel Brandon character is a local gardener named Pablo; we do not get to know him well enough to learn if there is any young Eliza in his life. Mary almost dies in a car accident when she learns of Rodrigo’s behavior, but we never see him again, and he certainly never “apologizes” for what he did.  Nora drives Edward away because he does not fit into her “10-year plan,” but she realizes how much she loves him when he gets engaged to Olivia’s friend Lucy (who is not a villain here).  Of course, she gets him in the end, but the way this happens was a little awkward.

There is a subplot about Nora and Edward providing pro bono legal assistance to some Mexican janitors, but that neither adds nor detracts from the story being told.  One twist that is not from the original story is that Gabe realizes just how awful his wife is, so he dumps her and ends up becoming friends with his sisters.

So, yes it’s a modernized version of the story, and yes, the fact that it is less than 2 hours long means that much of the story is gone, but this is still a very entertaining movie and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I’m looking forward to seeing it again, and this time I’ll watch the various making-of features that are on the disc.

I just (finally!) finished Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James.  My mother even wanted to read it, so we bought a copy at Books-a-Million and, since I was still reading Major Pettigrew, Mom started reading Death Comes to Pemberley.  I went into it with high hopes — as you all know, Austen is my absolute favorite author, and P.D. James is brilliant in her own way, and the combination of Austen’s characters and a James plot was very, very enticing.

The reality, however, did not live up to my expectations.  Granted, it’s possible that my expectations were too high, but this book was not nearly as entertaining as it could have been.  I’ve read enough sequels, prequels, modernizations and retellings of Austen to know that they absolutely can be entertaining.  In fact, my favorite sequel of all (Pemberley Shades, by Dorothy Bonavia-Hunt) has a mystery at its core.

As I said before, I am a fan of both Austen and James, and I found this book to be decidedly unsatisfying on both counts.  Elizabeth and Darcy weren’t instantly recognizable as Austen’s beloved characters. They were actually rather boring people.  Wickham ends up being a decorated soldier and Mrs. Younge turns out to be his sister.  The murder victim is Wickham’s friend, Captain Denny, and Wickham is arrested for the murder.  The real murderer is a dying man who lives on the Pemberley estate who thinks he is killing Wickham, the man who seduced his sister and left her with an illegitimate child.  The last few chapters, where first Colonel Fitzwilliam, and then Wickham, explained the whole story, were a muddle.  I did like how James brought in other Austen characters — Wickham’s employer was a Sir Walter Elliot and the people who end up adopting Wickham’s bastard are a Mr. and Mrs. Robert Martin of Highbury.  But overall I did not find myself emotionally involved in this story at all.  I kept reading because I hoped it would get better.  Unfortunately, it never did.  And, just for the record, Mom found it rather dull also.

Yesterday was Jane Austen’s 236th birthday.  I did not write a post on the big day itself because I was out with my local JASNA chapter celebrating it.  A good time was had by all.

I don’t need to repeat what I wrote last year, but the fact remains that Jane is still popular with a wide variety of people.  It’s still pretty amazing that the younger daughter of a country rector is remembered (and revered) for 6 novels and several unfinished stories 194 years after her death.

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Let’s fast-forward a little bit from the Regency era to the years after World War I.  Yes, the Downton Abbey Christmas Special is due to air on ITV in the UK at 21:00 (9 p.m.) on Christmas night.  Here is the press pack: http://www.itv.com/documents/pdf/DOWNTON_ABBEY_PRESS_S2_XMAS_Lores.pdf

As you will see, Sybil and Branson will not be around.  That makes sense — they’re not fabulously wealthy and can’t pop back and forth between Ireland and Downton on a whim.

Here are some stories about what may and may not happen:

http://www.digitalspy.com/british-tv/s183/downton-abbey/news/a352893/dan-stevens-teases-christmas-downton-abbey.html

http://www.cultbox.co.uk/news/headlines/2545-downton-abbey-christmas-special-story-details-revealed

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2073906/Dressing-Downton-Abbey-What-difference-80-years-makes.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2073828/Downton-Abbey-Christmas-special-Will-cast-crew-able-wraps.html

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/tv/3997101/Downton-Abbey-Christmas-special.html

And here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-tZVGdZoEM&feature=player_embedded) is a trailer for the Christmas special.  I am dying to find out what happens to Mr. Bates and, by extension, to Anna.

I just finished reading Mansfield Park Revisited by Joan Aiken.

As you know, I love Mansfield Park, although I do understand why it’s generally considered to be Jane Austen’s least popular work.  I did not appreciate it until I was around 40, even though I’d first read it at age 18.  I like and respect Fanny Price and, even though Edmund is not anywhere near the top of my list of favorite literary heroes, I really do think he’s right for Fanny.  An acquaintance of mine likes Henry Crawford and thinks that Fanny would have been better off with him.  She and I have had some spirited discussions on the subject, and we agree to disagree.

But I digress.

MPR takes place 4 years after the events of Mansfield Park.  Edmund and Fanny have 2 young children.  Mrs. Norris has died. Sir Thomas has died and Tom has inherited the title. William Price has just been promoted to Captain.  Susan Price still lives at Mansfield Park and her lazy, selfish Aunt Bertram still relies on her.

The book was OK. Fanny and Edmund are packed off to Antigua to clean up another mess on the family’s plantation.  Julia (the Honourable Mrs. John Yates) is in an unhappy marriage, so she and her children spend a lot of time at Mansfield minding other people’s business.  In essence, Julia has turned out to be a lot like Mrs. Norris.  She treats Susan like the hired help and does everything she can to convince her brother, the new Sir Thomas, to marry her sister-in-law, Charlotte Yates, who is a whiny, annoying woman.

And then there are the Crawfords.  Mary has made an unfortunate marriage and is now in very bad health.  She decides that the only place for her is Mansfield Park.  So she writes to Fanny to ask her advice about moving into the White House, but since Fanny is in Antigua, Susan gets the letter instead.  Susan’s only knowledge of the Crawfords is based on what she’s heard from Fanny, Edmund, Julia and Tom, and it’s not good.  Before she has a chance to speak to Tom about Mary’s letter, Tom announces that the White House has been rented.  Of course, we soon find out that Mary Crawford is the new tenant.

Anyway, it’s obvious that Aiken likes Henry and Mary far better than I do because a new character (Mrs. Osbourne, sister to the man who’s taking over Edmund’s duties at his two parishes) says that all of Maria’s troubles with Henry were her own fault, and that he’s innocent.  Mary and Susan become fast friends. Tom gets thrown from his horse and has to recuperate at the White House and he starts singing Mary’s praises.  As for Mary herself, she is now close to death, and tells Susan that her dearest wish would be to see Susan married to Henry.

Sounds familiar, right?

It gets even more familiar because, after Mary dies, Henry leaves the area when Susan doesn’t say yes to his proposal, and Tom — out of nowhere — declares his undying love for Susan. And she says she’s loved him since she first arrived at Mansfield Park when she was 14. We’ve never even had a hint of this love on Susan’s part, and certainly not on Tom’s.  I went into the book thinking she’d end up with the visiting clergyman.  But to have her end up with Tom in the last few pages just had me rolling my eyes and being glad the end was nigh.

I might have recommended it (even with Henry turning out to not be a slimeball) if Aiken hadn’t been so derivative towards the end, but now I can’t.  If it’s in your library, OK, go for it.  But don’t waste your hard-earned money buying it.  I’ve read amateur fanfiction that was more creative than this.

I’m about 1/3 through what I consider to be Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece, Jane Eyre, and already have a couple of comments to share.

I don’t know if it’s because I’ve spent the past year immersed in Austen, but the first thing that struck me about Jane Eyre is the writing. Austen rarely gives us a detailed description of anything — not people, and not places.  An awful lot is left to our imagination.  But Brontë gives us a lot more information.  We have a pretty good idea of what Jane and Rochester look like.  We have a pretty good idea of what Thornfield and the surrounding country look like.  Maybe that’s why I have had trouble loving Jane Eyre adaptations — Brontë has already given us so much detail that no adapter could possibly capture it all.

While Fanny Price and Anne Elliot are Austen’s most introspective heroines and we know quite a bit about their innermost thoughts, Jane Eyre is presented as an autobiography, so we know Jane much better than we do any of Austen’s characters.  Again, less is left to the imagination.  We experience everything as she does.  We know nothing that she doesn’t know.

Austen wrote books that some consider to be romances, but she was not a Romantic.  Brontë was a Romantic. We learn a lot about Jane’s emotions; she is far more open with her emotions than any of Austen’s heroines are.  I am not saying that one authoress is better than the other; I am only saying that, after a year of Austen, it’s been quite an adjustment to read Brontë.  I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read Jane Eyre, and I still love it dearly.

Part IV: Emma, cont’d

Over the weekend, I watched the Bollywood film Aisha with a group of Janeites.  Aisha is a modernized version of Emma, and seems to owe a lot to Clueless.  But Clueless is better.  The clothes were gorgeous, as was much of the countryside in the scenes outside of Mumbai and Delhi. But the movie itself?  Meh. I didn’t get a chance to take notes, so all I can say is that we had a lot of trouble keeping up with what was happening, and even stopped paying attention after a while.  I’m glad I saw it, and I might rent it again and actually take notes, but I wouldn’t tell anyone who’s not an obsessive to run out and get a copy.  It’s a shame too, because I was really looking forward to seeing it.

I’d said that this weekend had some potentially good blog fodder, and I was right.  I just don’t know if I can do it all justice.

This weekend was the DeSoto Seafood Festival in downtown Bradenton.  It started on Friday night and ended about an hour ago.  KC, D and I went on Friday night and had a blast.  There were three bands going at once, including local favorites the Billy Rice Band, who were their usual terrific selves.    All of Old Main Street was shut down for music and booths with food, drink and merchandise.  And then, at the foot of Old Main, Barcarrota Blvd. had a block-long tent with vendors.  We had crabcakes, sushi, fried shrimp, etc.  The place was packed, but I would imagine that it only got more packed as the weekend went on.  Edit — here are some photos of the event from Patch.com.

Yesterday, N and I met in St. Pete at the Museum of Fine Arts.  The local JASNA chapter was co-hosting a gallery talk on Romantic painters and their work.  The speaker was Dr. Kathleen Anderson who, among other things, is a co-coordinator of the South Florida JASNA region.  She was very good, and was followed by a skit produced by some of the women in our local chapter.  They honored the 200th anniversary of the publication of Sense and Sensibility by giving us Lucy and Robert’s take on how they got together.  It was very entertaining.  After that, we had tea in a gorgeous little garden terrace that  is part of the museum.  The food left a whole lot to be desired, but we did enjoy ourselves.

And then today was the 3rd Annual Mutt Derby at the Sarasota Kennel Club.  As I mentioned last year, the Kennel Club hosts the Derby and the proceeds go to the greyhound rescue and the All Faiths Food Bank.  KC’s dog Trixie ran again, but she only finished third in her heat and so did not make it to the finals.  Oh well.  She did her best and we still enjoyed ourselves immensely.  Once again D, the official Team Trixie videographer, captured the race, but I still can’t figure out how to post a video from an iPhone.  Oh well.  Just imagine a little white dog running as fast as she can in the brilliant Florida sunshine and you’ve got it.

Last, but not least, the Mets rebounded from Friday night’s embarrassment to take 2 of 3 from the Marlins.  So now, if they can manage to win 1 of the 3 games in Philly, they’ll make it to their home opener with a .500 record.  At this point, I’d actually be happy about that.

Part VI: Persuasion, cont’d

P07 stars Sally Hawkins as Anne, Rupert Penry-Jones as Wentworth, Alice Krige as Lady Russell, Anthony Head as Sir Walter, Nicholas Farrell as Mr. Musgrove, Peter Wight as Admiral Croft and Tobias Menzies as Mr. Elliot.  It was produced by ITV and was aired along with MP07 and NA07 as part of their Jane Austen “festival” in the spring of 2007.  I love the book so dearly and the cast sounded so wonderful that I couldn’t wait to see it, and scoured YouTube for clips.  I saw it three times between the spring of 2007 and the early winter of 2008 and I haven’t seen it since.  I saw the US version once and the UK version twice.  I own the UK version and that is the one I watched for this post.  Here, for what they are worth, are my thoughts.

First impressions – Anne is a mouth-breather with bad hair.  It is so tight and slicked-back that I have to wonder if it hurts.  We first see her scurrying around the house with a pad and pen, taking inventory of Kellynch.  So we’ve missed the first couple of chapters of the book, you know, the ones where we learn just how broke Sir Walter is and that he must retrench.  “My” Anne Elliot does not scurry.  She is a very dignified, elegant woman who does not scurry.  Oh my – there’s a servant holding an inkwell, just in time for Anne to use it.  Whiskey.  Tango.  Foxtrot.  She’s scurrying so quickly that I’m surprised she has the time to write anything down.  She certainly doesn’t look like she’s writing.  She just looks like she’s looking.

The music is lovely, almost haunting.  The score is by Martin Phipps.

Lady Russell appears and is completely ignorant of Sir Walter’s financial situation.  Obviously, she missed the first couple of chapters, too.  In this version, Mr. Shepherd doesn’t seem to exist because here, it’s Anne herself who convinces her father to let the house.  Austen’s Sir Walter  and Elizabeth didn’t think highly enough of Anne to listen to her on matters such as these.

It turns out that the family haven’t left yet.  While Anne’s been scurrying, Elizabeth and Sir Walter are strolling around the garden. Elizabeth’s wig is just awful.  She also looks much, much older than 29 (She is.  The actress was 41 in 2007.).  The screenwriter obviously took a page from Nick Dear’s script and has her eating sweets.

Ah, so Mr. Shepherd does exist.  He comes upon the Elliots and Lady Russell in the garden, along with Mrs. Clay.  Mrs. Clay is way too pretty.  What happened to the protruding tooth and the clumsy wrist?  She even has dimples and looks positively winsome.

Anne learns about the Crofts and scurries up to her bedroom.  Lady Russell follows her, and they have a conversation that is almost from the book about how Anne marrying Wentworth would not have been prudent.

Anne keeps a diary and reads it out loud while she’s writing.  She wonders if Wentworth is married.  I’m not sure I like this diary technique.  It seems almost like a crutch.  And then she looks at the camera while asking her diary if he has children.  I’m not a fan of “breaking the 4th wall” either.

I’m guessing that it’s in the interest of time that they show Admiral and Mrs. Croft arriving at Kellynch the very instant Anne departs.  (I am not exaggerating – the Crofts can see Anne leave.) I can think of no other explanation.  The Admiral is wearing civilian clothes, which is appropriate.  P95 has the officers wearing their uniforms, which is not period correct, regardless of how amazing they look in those uniforms.  Mrs. Croft looks very old.  Sophy and Frederick are only supposed to be 7 or 8 years apart – Marion Bailey is 11 or so years older than Rupert Penry-Jones.  He has a baby face, and she does not, so the age difference is quite pronounced.

I do like them keeping the Admiral’s comments about all the looking glasses.  I missed that in P95.  But what I don’t like is what Sophy says next – she has heard “talk” that Frederick was engaged the last time he was in Somerset.  “His heart was quite broken, I believe.”  I am stunned.  There is never, ever a hint in the book that Sophy knows about the engagement.

We meet Mary.  The dialogue does come straight from the book, but I do miss Anne seeing her at the window.  Meeting her this way, lying there on the couch with her eyes closed, could mean that she actually is ill rather than just faking it.  Mrs. Musgrove is not large so, just as in P71, we will get no “fat sighs” here (not that it matters, just as in P95, Richard Musgrove never existed).  Henrietta and Louisa are very young, but they do give a good first impression.  There is no manic giggling, and that’s a very good start.  Charles comes in with his father and the boys, but he does not give me a very good first impression.  He seems rather a twit.  Amanda Hale seems to be channeling Sophie Thompson, but is not succeeding.  She seems as if she’s got either Tourette’s or St. Vitus Dance because she just won’t stop twitching.  It’s unbelievably annoying.  But I am prejudiced towards Nicholas Farrell.  I’ve never not liked him in anything he’s been in, so I do have high hopes for him.

Little Charles falls from the tree and is brought back to the house. His mother gets hysterical and ANNE RE-SETS HIS COLLARBONE.  WHILE IN HER DRESSING GOWN.  AND IT’S UNBUTTONED.  Whiskey.  Tango.  Foxtrot.  We all know how capable Anne is, but this is ridiculous.

After Anne and Frederick meet again, Anne looks at the camera, writes passages from the novel in her diary and cries.  I don’t feel for her the way I do in the book or in P95.  I just don’t. I think that they are almost forcing the issue by breaking the 4th wall.  Well, the technique does not work for me at all.  I don’t have the empathy for the character that I am accustomed to having.

Frederick barely says a word.  He just stands around and stares.  Except when he tells the whole gang that he’s ready to get married.  I like having him say the words he’s supposed to say, but he didn’t say them in public.  It works better when he says them to his sister in private; it’s just rude to say them in front of everyone.  And Frederick, despite everything, is still polite.

The dance is at Kellynch instead of Uppercross, and I missed Frederick asking why Anne doesn’t dance.

The more I see Amanda Hale, the less impressed I am with her.  Sophie Thompson was comic relief.  This woman is just annoying.   She’s constantly twitching and contorting her face and body.  I am not sure why she’s doing this.  I’ve never seen her in anything else, and so cannot say if she does this in all of her roles (she was, apparently, in episode 9.3 of Spooks, but I cannot remember her and cannot comment on her acting in that part).

Henrietta and Louisa take the Long Walk with the express intention of going to visit Winthrop and Mary goes along voluntarily.  That makes no sense whatsoever.  Anne spends the entire walk looking as if she’s about to cry.  Here, even Charles forgets about Anne and lets her fall into the water. It’s so obvious that you just know it’s going to happen. This reminds me that we never got the scene at Uppercross where the entire Musgrove family confides in Anne.  I miss that scene – it shows just how much they care about her and trust her judgment.  This Anne, despite her expertise with collarbones, does not seem to be a source of advice and consolation from the Musgrove family.  Anyway, when she falls into the water and lies on the ground, flat on her back, all of a sudden Frederick is there to help her up.  That’s very odd and not even close to anything that happened in the book.  The way it happens almost made me think it was a dream sequence.

OK, this made me laugh.  When Frederick and Louisa are talking about how the family wished that Charles had married Anne instead, Frederick asks her when this happened. “I do not exactly know, but before he married Mary.”  Are you kidding me?????  Did anyone proofread the script???  I can’t believe that RPJ doesn’t start laughing out loud at this one.  All he does is look perturbed.  RPJ is a fine actor but he’s totally wasted here.  He’s barely strung 10 sentences together since the movie started more than 30 minutes ago. And this is all besides the fact that he doesn’t look as if he’s spent 8 minutes out of doors, much less 8 years.

I’m very glad that Charles Hayter gets to keep his name.  The “Henry Hayter” business in P95 was just silly.

But I am NOT glad at what happens next.  The scene where the party meets up with the Crofts, the scene where Anne first starts to see that maybe Frederick still has some feelings for her, is totally ruined.  He plops her down on the back of the gig, like a sack of potatoes.  She doesn’t sit with the Crofts, she’s sitting on the back of the gig, facing the other way.  Anne is almost a bystander, not a part of the conversation.  It’s ludicrous and not even remotely swoon-worthy.  This is just Not Good.

Voiceovers worked to a certain extent in P&P80, but they don’t work here.  Not after seeing P95, where so much happened with no words being spoken because they simply weren’t needed.

Harry Harville?  Oh please.  That’s even worse than Henry Hayter.  And, it appears that Capt. Harville knows who Anne is. He gives Frederick a knowing look when introduced to Anne.  That’s definitely not in the book. Frederick didn’t tell anyone except his brother Edward.  Not Sophy, not Harville, not Benwick.  No one.  I will say that Harville is a good-looking man.  But where is Mrs. Harville?  I’ve always liked her.  This Capt. Harville appears to be a bachelor.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Anne and Benwick have the constancy conversation at Lyme.  And Frederick doesn’t hear it.  And it’s cut short to boot.  Badly, badly, BADLY done.   The writers certainly didn’t understand the importance of this conversation.  And it really ticks me off.  How can he write his letter without hearing what Anne has to say?  

Ah, here comes the stranger on the beach.  He’s tall, dark and handsome.  He’s Tobias Menzies, who appears to be a very appropriate Mr. Elliot. We see him look approvingly at Anne, but I’m not sure why.  Sally Hawkins’ Anne does not seem to have become, shall we say, refreshed by the sea air.  And, with that slicked-back, greasy-looking hair, she does not look even remotely as pretty as I’ve seen her in other things.

Louisa’s dive doesn’t have much build-up.  Anne takes charge, and everyone does what she tells them to.  And there’s blood here, unlike in the book, where there is no visible wound at all.  Harville is at the scene of the accident and, when we are back at the house, we see no Mrs. Harville at all.

The movie is half over, at around the same place the book is (Louisa’s accident), but everything just feels rushed.  I keep thinking that we’re missing something.

They seem to be using the Royal Crescent as Camden Place. What’s up with that?

There’s a scene in Lyme where Harville tells Frederick that it is expected that he will marry Louisa.  We never hear or see this in either of the other adaptations, and it is only referred to in the book.  This is an example of what I mean when I say that this adaptation gives us almost too much information.  P95 didn’t need to show us everything.  It treated us as if we were smart enough to figure it out on our own.  Here, however, everything has to be spelled out to us.  I don’t really like it.

I’m not sure why all of the characters spend their time going around the Pump Room in circles.  I keep thinking of a skating rink.  I don’t know how historically accurate this is, but it’s rather silly looking.

Anne’s letter from Uppercross is from Charles, not Mary.  And he doesn’t say that Louisa is going to marry Benwick; it just hints at a marriage, and of course, Anne thinks it’s Frederick and Louisa.  I’m not sure what the point is then, except to have Anne cry again.  I guess Sally Hawkins has a talent for crying and they didn’t want it to go to waste.

Sir Walter is not as vain as he could be, but he’s nastier than any Sir Walter I’ve ever come across.  When he tells Anne that she should go with them to the Dalrymples’, he shouts rather than whines.

We’re back at Lyme, and Frederick is telling Harville about how he still loves Anne.  Harville does indeed know all about her.  And then Harville tells him about Louisa and Benwick.  I dislike this scene a lot. It’s just so wrong on so many levels.

The writer seems to believe that every other word in Regency times was “exceedingly.”  The characters use it exceedingly often.

Anne finds out that her “cousin” (huh???) Louisa Musgrove is marrying Benwick through a personal visit from the Crofts.  Where did that come from?  Mrs. Croft says things that were supposed to come out of the Admiral’s mouth, and they don’t really work.  I’m not sure why this was a good idea.  And, once again, Anne looks like she’s going to cry.  She reminds me of Emily from Udolpho, who cried so often that I wanted to reach into the novel and smack her.  It’s bad enough that the Crofts notice something’s wrong with Anne, and that’s definitely not a good thing.

Next up, we get the scene where Anne and Frederick meet at Mollands.  I’m sorry to offend any of the P07 fans out there, but I see zero chemistry between these two.  Sally Hawkins hasn’t gotten any of Anne’s “bloom” back, and RPJ continues to look uncomfortable. This is such a waste of good actors.  Bad script and bad casting don’t bode well for a good adaptation.   And they have their Louisa/Benwick conversation at Mollands.  Isn’t the shop supposed to be crowded?  Mr. Elliot shows up and calls Anne by her first name.  That’s just wrong.  Then she tells Frederick about a concert at the Pump Room.  It almost sounds like she’s asking him for a date.  This is just wrong.

Anne really needs to do something about the mouth-breathing.  It makes her look considerably less than attractive.

Seeing Anne run after Frederick at the concert in this film is even worse than seeing her run after Frederick in P95 (which I definitely thought was out of character for Anne Elliot). This time, she gets up just as the orchestra starts playing a Mozart symphony and runs out to find him.  What happened to Anne being an Italian scholar?  I miss hearing Mr. Elliot fawning all over her.  And then he asks her to marry him at the concert.  Where did that come from?

All of a sudden, it’s the next day, and Anne sees a letter intended for herself on the table in the entry way.  It is from Frederick, who tells her he has a “commission from my admiral” and that he must speak with her at 11 that morning.  While I like the idea of a tribute to the cancelled chapters in P95, it seems way more cumbersome to do it this way.

Wentworth shows up at the house just as Mary and Charles do (I did say this felt rushed, didn’t I?) and Anne looks like she’s about to vomit.  There is no more delicate way to put it.  So then she takes Frederick into another room and shuts the door – all while her father, brother-in-law and 2 sisters are watching.  Whenever I think I’ve seen the last weird thing, another one happens.

So now is the “commission from my admiral” speech.  It’s just meh.

But now begins the stupidest part of this entire stupid movie. Frederick has just left the room in which he and Anne were talking, and Anne is less than a minute behind him.  So what does she do?  She runs after him.  And I am not kidding when I say she runs.  And, for a few seconds, so does Mrs. Smith (that Nurse Rooke is obviously even more capable than Anne herself – an invalid is now running through the streets of Bath!) and telling Anne the truth about Mr. Elliot.  She tells her more than we heard about in the book.  Since when does Mrs. Smith know that William Walter Weasel wants to install Mrs. Clay as his mistress even while he’s married to Anne?

Anyway, Frederick is gone.  Poof!  Vanished into thin air.  Good Lord, this running is stupid.  Anne is a woman who can’t walk a couple of miles without tiring, and now she’s running all around Bath like a chicken with her head cut off.  It’s stupid, stupid, stupid.  Some people have tried to justify it by saying that it’s because all of her emotions are swirling around.  Well, the book’s Anne had some of those same emotions, but she didn’t run through Bath like an idiot in an attempt to vent them.

Here’s a tip — instead of watching the running scene from the movie, check this out instead: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwZsyVm01Dw&feature=player_embedded Don’t click on it.  Copy and paste it into a browser window and enjoy.  Seeing this clip again reminds me of the time I saw this film on a big screen at Cooper Union in New York City.  The entire audience started laughing when Anne started running, and they didn’t stop until the credits rolled.  There’s something seriously wrong with that.  You’re not supposed to laugh at the ending of Persuasion.

But I digress.  Despite all evidence to the contrary, things get even worse.  Anne runs into Capt. Harville (literally) and HE GIVES HER FREDERICK’S LETTER. Is this another example of the space/time continuum being fiddled with?  How in the world has Frederick had the time to go to a place with a desk, a pen, some ink and some paper and write a letter?  He’s only just left Anne!  And, even more to the point. how can he write this particular letter since he never heard the constancy conversation?  I’ll tell you how.  It’s because the Letter, Austen’s magnificent Letter, has been butchered almost beyond recognition.  This alone is enough to make me hate this movie.  Once again: 

And, after all the running, she accepts his proposal and they kiss.  And it’s got to be the ugliest kiss in Austen adaptation history.  She’s been running around town doing the Bath Marathon, and she can hardly catch her breath.  The result is just a gross, un-sexy, guppy-like kiss.  And I hate it with a passion.  It’s so awful that I couldn’t even watch it.  Bleagh.

Next thing we know, she’s writing in that stupid diary again, and he takes her, blindfolded, to see her wedding gift.  It’s Kellynch Hall!  It doesn’t matter that the place is entailed to Mr. Elliot in the first place, or that Frederick doesn’t have enough money to buy it in the second place.  This kiss is nicer (and her hair is better) but it does not make up for the utter stupidity of the rest of the film.

I watched it so you don’t have to.  I was once asked what my favorite part of this film is.  My answer?  The closing credits.

It’s a real shame that the Odyssey has to end on such a disappointing note.  This movie had so much potential – a terrific cast and a decent budget – but it was just awful.  Not as bad as MP99 of course, but bad enough that, if I hadn’t had to watch it for this project, I would have happily let it sit in its box forever.

Luckily for us all, I do, however, have something else up my sleeve – it’s Aisha, the Bollywood adaptation of Emma that came out last summer.  Netflix sent me one of their copies, so I plan to watch that in the next couple of days and post my column shortly afterwards. And, in order to get the rotten taste of P07 out of my mouth, I just may watch P95 again (now that I’m allowed to) and revel in its beauty.