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Persuasive Romance with Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth
‘Persuasion’ is my Mum’s favourite story from the world of Jane Austen!
This TV movie was made in 2007, as part of ‘The Jane Austen Season’ shown at the time with ‘Mansfield Park’ and ‘Northanger Abbey’. Ironically, it was released on a 2Entertain DVD instead of an ITV DVD. ‘Persuasion’ is a very ‘persuasive’ romantic drama to see and is also pleasantly charming.
My Mum first saw the BBC TV movie version of ‘Persuasion’ with Amanda Root back in 1995. This 2007 TV movie of ‘Persuasion’ stars Sally Hawkins as Anne Elliot and Rupert Penry-Jones as Captain Wentworth. I like both TV versions of ‘Persuasion’, although the 2007 version is easy to remember.
‘Persuasion’ is also considerably the last novel published by Jane Austen before her death in 1817. At the time of writing, Miss Austen was living in Bath where the second half of the story takes place. The story reflects Miss Austen’s dislike of Bath in later life, but I’ll talk more about that aspect later.
The plot involves a young 27-year old woman named Anne Elliot. Eight years ago, Anne was engaged to naval officer Captain Wentworth at 19. But she was ‘persuaded’ by her family and friends to break off her engagement due to Captain Wentworth’s lack of fortune. This was a decision she regretted.
Eight years later, Captain Wentworth re-enters Anne’s life again and she’s faced with the turmoil of losing the love of her life again to another. He hasn’t forgiven her for rejecting his proposal all those years ago. Can Anne win back Wentworth’s heart again and never be ‘persuaded’ otherwise.
I can see why my Mum likes ‘Persuasion’ as a romantic drama, since it’s a very sensitive and grown-up story about love and loss. It homes in on making the right decision to fall in love and never to be weak and feeble when being persuaded by others to turn back on a decision once it has been made.
Anne’s story is one of growth, as she reflects on her decision to turn Captain Wentworth down when she had the chance to be happy and she regrets it. Throughout this TV movie, you’d want to see Anne and Wentworth together again and for her to be firm in her decision to marry him at the end.
Also Anne is a very quiet and sensitive person during the story. Whilst everyone else is happy and unaware of Anne’s turmoil, she becomes strong in character through her quiet nature. She soon gets to demonstrate good traits with comforting and helping people when ill or injured during the drama.
Like I said, this story is divided into two halves. The first half is set in the countryside where Anne stays with one of her sisters and family, the Musgroves in the Uppercross estate. The second half is set in Bath, where Anne re-joins her father, her other sister and Lady Russell who now reside there.
‘Persuasion’ reflects on Miss Austen’s dislike of Bath when she was living there at the time with her family in the 1880s. This was her father’s decision and it’s reflected in the family of Anne and her father Sir Walter. This is also a complete contrast to Jane Austen’s earliest visit to Bath back in 1797.
It’s made clear that Anne hates Bath, as she welcomes the delay to joining her father when going off to see the Musgroves in the countryside. Captain Wentworth even makes mention of it as he also recalls Anne’s dislike of Bath towards the end of the story’s first half when they’re both together.
Sally Hawkins is lovely as Anne Elliot in this TV movie of ‘Persuasion’. It was the first time I saw Sally Hawkins on screen and she delivers an honest and truthful performance as Anne. You can really empathise with Anne when she’s so regretful of her decision to turn Captain Wentworth down at 19.
I liked some of the voice-over narration given by Anne during the story, especially when she writes down her diary entries privately in her room. This includes the painful meeting of Captain Wentworth. I also liked it when she’s crying over the prospect of losing him again to another woman.
Rupert Penry-Jones is very good as Captain Wentworth in this version of ‘Persuasion’. There are also scenes where we get to see his side of the story more. I imagine they were written for the TV movie more than from the original book. This happens when he confides to his naval friends in the drama.
You can clearly see how Wentworth avoids talking to Anne during the first half of the story, as he gives the impression he hasn’t forgiven her for all those years ago. But gradually in this drama, he comes to realise that he has made mistakes on the way and he wants to have Anne return to his life.
Alice Krige stars as Lady Russell in this TV movie of ‘Persuasion’. I’ve met Alice at a ‘Memorabilia Birmingham’ convention in November 2011, as she played the Borg Queen in ‘Star Trek: First Contact’. I had a lovely chat with Alice about her appearance in ‘Persuasion’ and her working with Sally Hawkins.
Lady Russell is a friend of the Elliot family and someone whom Anne closely confides in during this drama. But Lady Russell is also someone who persuaded Anne to turn down Captain Wentworth’s proposal of marriage to her. Lady Russell clearly cares for Anne, but isn’t happy for her to marry Wentworth.
Anthony Head stars as Sir Walter Elliot, Anne’s father in this TV movie of ‘Persuasion’. For me, Anthony Head played Mr. Finch in the ‘Doctor Who’ episode ‘School Reunion’ with David Tennant. Here, he plays someone who is very snobbish, rather silly and proud of his status in English society.
Sir Walter has to give up the Elliot family residence of Kellynch Hall in Somersetshire due to financial difficulties. He isn’t happy with the idea of giving up his family residence to Admiral Croft and his wife, since he disapproves of naval officers. He was also involved with Anne’s turning down Wentworth.
The cast also includes Julia Davis as Elizabeth Elliot, Anne’s snobbish sister as well as Peter Wight as Admiral Croft and Marion Bailey as Mrs. Croft. There’s also Tobias Menzies as William Elliot, Anne’s cousin whom she meets during the film and Maisie Dimbleby as Mrs. Smith, Anne’s old school friend.
There’s also the Musgroves: Amanda Hale as Mary, Anne’s sister and Sam Hazeldine as Charles with their daughters Jennifer Higham as Louisa and Rosamund Stephen as Henrietta. There’s Stella Gonet as Mrs. Musgrove and Nicholas Farrell (who was also in a BBC version of ‘Mansfield Park’) as Mr. Musgrove.
There’s Joseph Mawle as Captain Harville and Finlay Robertson as Captain Benwick, who are friends of Captain Wentworth in the story. I’ve seen Finlay Robertson before in the ‘Doctor Who’ TV episode ‘Blink’. I liked that scene where Harville offers Wentworth to accompany him to Bath to find Anne.
I’m pleased that this TV movie of ‘Persuasion’ was actually filmed in Bath itself, unlike the TV movie of ‘Northanger Abbey’ at the same time in 2007. Specific landmarks can be seen, including the Royal Crescent and Anne is seen running a lot in Bath when she tries to find Wentworth at the film’s end. 😀
This TV movie of ‘Persuasion’ is sadly let-down by the final love scene between Anne and Captain Wentworth. I’m afraid I couldn’t take it seriously. It happens at the moment where Anne accepts Wentworth’s proposal of marriage and is followed by a very long build-up to a kiss between the two.
It seems Anne is deciding whether to kiss Wentworth or not and it seemed rather silly that they didn’t just kiss each other immediately. It seems rather comical on screen. Harry Hill made a point of it in his show ‘TV Burp’ and it’s on par with the funny laugh by Emma Thompson in ‘Sense & Sensibility’.
There are no DVD special features for this TV version of ‘Persuasion’, I’m afraid. This is a shame as I would’ve liked to have seen some behind-the-scenes interviews with Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones. It’s the same for the 2007 versions of ‘Mansfield Park’ and ‘Northanger Abbey’ on DVD.
I like the 2007 TV version of ‘Persuasion’ with Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones. It’s let down by the kiss at the end, but on the whole the performances and direction are very good. I liked the actual Bath scenes in the TV movie. It’s a very good romantic drama that is a favourite of my Mum’s.
‘Persuasion’ (2007) rating – 8/10
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