Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility; drama, UK, 1995; D: Ang Lee, S: Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman, Greg Wise, Hugh Grant, Gemma Jones, Tom Wilkinson, James Fleet, Emilie Francois, Robert Hardy, Imelda Staunton, Hugh Laurie

England, 19th century. Three sisters; Elinor, Marianne and Margaret, and their mother, Mrs. Dashwood, have to move out of their house after their deceased father left practically all of his inheritance to his son from the previous marriage. Moving to an isolated and modest new home, the introverted Elinor falls in love in Edward Ferrars, whereas the extroverted Marianne falls for John Willoughby, but he - after giving her postive signals - leaves her to marry a rich woman. Having found out that even Edward is engaged, Elinor distances himself from him, too. However, when Edward ends his engagement, he declares his love to Elinor, whereas Marianne marries Colonel Brandon.

Winner of 3 BAFTA awards (best film, actress Emma Thompson and supporting actress Kate Winslet), two Golden Globes (best motion picture, screenplay) and an Oscar (best screenplay), "Sense and Sensibility" is a correct adaptation of Jane Austen's eponymous novel in which the author gave a sharp analysis of the shift between human relationships, so palpable that it stings -  here one man implies his love to one girl, but then runs away to marry another one just because she is rich. A similar rift between 'de iure' and 'de facto' misleading appearance of love was found in Ang Lee's film "The Wedding Banquet", which is probably the reason why he was chosen to direct this film, and he did it with an admirable effort, especially in the last third when all knots are tied up, yet one can sense that the British period pieces are not quite his 'territory', since the movie takes too long until it finally starts to engage the viewers. Likewise, it lacks wit and humor (one sequence in particular stands out because it proves otherwise: after Elinor implies that she fancies a mysterious man called 'Mr. F', she wants to play a piano, but someone makes an ironic remark: "And I know in which key you will sing in: F major.") Some complained that Emma Thompson was "too old" to play the role of Elinor, but her age just gives her character's status of a bachelor in those times even more weight and pain. Not as intense as it could have been, almost lukewarm in the opening act, "Sensibility" is nonetheless a good film, demonstrating that Austen's observations of society in the 19th century are identifiable even to today's viewers, whereas the best supporting performance was delivered by Alan Rickman.


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