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Sense And Sensibility (DVD)
Member Name: ms_memory
Sense And Sensibility (DVD)
Advantages: Beautiful cinematography, well cast and acted
Disadvantages: Predictable, but that's Austen for you!
Sense and Sensibility was made in 1995 and based on the novel of the same name by Jane Austen, written in 1811. Emma Thompson wrote the screenplay, as well as starring as Elinor Dashwood. Sense and Sensibility was awarded an Oscar for its screenplay and nominated for further Oscars in several categories, including cinematography, soundtrack and costumes, and both Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet were nominated for their performances.
** Plot **
When old Mr Dashwood dies he is forced by the rules of inheritance to leave his entire fortune to his son, John, and daughter-in-law, Fanny. The couple are responsible for taking care of Mr Dashwood's other family: his second wife and his three unmarried daughters Elinor, Marianne and Margaret. But John and Fanny are mean despite having a lot of money, and they stake their claim on the womens' home. Luckily the Dashwood ladies aren't completely destitute - they have a small allowance and Mrs Dashwood 's distant relative kindly offers them a seaside cottage to live in. The film deals with the difficulties the women face moving away from their comfortable, large, busy household to a cold, lonely new home, and the two older daughters' worries about finding suitable husbands now that they have moved downwards in the social order.
** My opinion **
The first thing thing that struck me is that this is a visually gorgeous film. The countryside is beautiful, whether it be the manicured parklands of the Dashwood girls' original home, or the wilder meadows, hills and seascapes of their new surroundings. The buildings are similarly beautiful, from the proud stone house fronts to the baroque, gilded ballrooms to the sparse but inviting country cottage.
The story is fairy simple and easy to follow, though in typical Austen-style it has the odd element of intrigue, thwarted ambition and unrequited love. Of course, we know that all is going to be well in the end and in this sense the film is predictable - it's obvious who is going to end marrying whom, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable in my opinion. At least the secrets and twists are revealed bit by bit - in this sense the film is very well-paced.
It's funny to see such a large number of well-known British actors together, and looking so youthful. Thompson is solid as the reserved, quite earthy Elinor, who epitomises the 'sense' in the title, while Kate Winslet is excellent as Elinor's sweet-voiced, easily excited younger sister Marianne, who embodies the element of 'sensibility'. She really looks the part; with her pale skin and curly reddish hair she resembles a delicate porcelain doll. There is also Hugh Grant as Elinor's love interest Edward (seemingly unattainable as he's also the awful Fanny's brother) and Alan Rickman as a lonely colonel. Grant is very well cast in his role as a posh, eligible bachelor, employing his standard perplexed expression and bashful stuttering to perfection, but Rickman looks, as in many of his films, slightly disgusted at all times. A few more expressions from him might have been nice. Hugh Laurie is good in a minor role as an exasperated, hen-pecked husband, while Elizabeth Spriggs is brilliant as an old, interfering gossip. She really adds a touch of humour to the film, though I found her daughter, played by Imelda Staunton, a little over the top.
There is the odd moment of humour, such a scene where the Dashwood's cottage is full of women all crying in different rooms for different reasons, or when Fanny is horrified at learning of a secret engagement and switches from decorous to violent in a split second. In general, though, it's not really a funny film, but rather a good, solid, costume drama/ romance. It didn't blow me away, but neither did I lose my concentration during the 130 minutes' duration. All in all, it is a pleasant and very well-made film, and it also has a lovely soundtrack.
Currently available on Amazon for £3.01
Summary: Good, solid, costume drama showcasing 1990s British acting talent