“Persuasion:” The Netflix Adaption

A review on the Netflix adaptation “Persuasion”

by Laksha Vijaikumar, Reporter

“Persuasion?” I certainly wish someone persuaded me out of watching this movie.

The movie, which came out earlier this year, is an adaption of the iconic Jane Austen novel from 1817 that follows the complicated romantic entanglements of 27-year-old, Anne Elliot, a kind, gentle woman. With Dakota Johnson starring as the leading woman, Cosmo Jarvis as Captain Frederick Wentworth and Henry Golding as William Elliot (yes, he’s Anne’s cousin, and yes, he’s a romantic interest- I didn’t write the novel), it’s safe to say the cast is quite impressive.

However, having a talented cast isn’t necessarily indicative of whether a movie will be good. While Jane Austen novel adaptations are good in theory, they are always extremely difficult to perfect due to all various factors such as costumes, scenery, the script, etc that have to be in line with the time period.

But enough of this, and let’s get to the actually interesting part, that being the question, is “Persuasion” a good movie? The simple answer is no, and the complicated answer is NO, but in all caps. “Persuasion” is known as Austen’s most sophisticated novel, but the movie doesn’t contain an ounce of that charm. It’s constant fourth-wall breaking where she looks directly into the camera to acknowledge the audience is insanely painful. This makes it seem as if the movie isn’t even taking itself seriously. And the fact Johnson’s character breaks the fourth wall in the actual trailer itself makes it confusing why the producers would make this creative decision considering the fact that no one asked for it, and would only turn away potential viewers.

This annoying aspect of the movie totally contradicts the entire existence of Jane Austen. There isn’t a single serious moment, which is in stark contrast to the actual novel. It’s like the movie hates itself, and is in a self-destructive spiral. This movie thinks it’s “Emma,” but in reality, it’s a poorly written “Fleabag.”

On top of the dreadful script, there’s also the fact the writers seem to despise their own heroine considering how they changed every single aspect of her. Instead of being a mature, wise woman, Anne is written as an off-brand cynical Jim Halpert. She gossips about others, hates her family and is incredibly crude, like in the instance Johnson happens to relieve her business behind a tree – something novel Anne would NEVER do.

All of the qualities that made Anne the best Jane Austen main character were removed, and changed in order to be more comedic and fit the times. And in all honesty, I’d much rather have a main character be quiet and shy, than pretentious and terribly unfunny.

While there are many problems with the movie, there are good aspects, such as the refreshing costumes, which happen to be accurate but with a nice spin on the traditional regency dress. In addition to the costumes, there is also an amazing cast, as I mentioned before. Johnson and Golding were carrying this film on their backs. They’re own charm shone through their poorly written characters, and was the only reason I didn’t projectile vomit all over my room.

Overall, I give the film 3.5/10 stars. I personally think it’s so bad, that’s actually kind of enjoyable. If you’re a die-hard Jane Austen fan, then I really don’t recommend this. However, if you’re just in a silly, goofy mood and want to watch a fun rom-com, then “Persuasion” should be at the top of your list.