Persuasion [1995/I]

Movie adaptations of Jane Austen's classic novels were all the rage (relatively speaking) in the mid-1990s. Clueless updated Austen's Emma, which was more conventionally adapted in another version (Emma) starring Gwyneth Paltrow. Emma was produced yet again, this time for British television, as were a celebrated miniseries of Pride and Prejudice and this splendid film of Austen's Persuasion. Persuasion is the story of a love that survives eight years of dormancy and the frustrating obstacles of class prejudice in 19th century England. Anne (Amanda Root) is captivated when she meets the dignified naval officer Capt. Wentworth (CiarĂ¡n Hinds), but she is advised to discourage his romantic overtures because he has no fortune. They meet again eight years later, but now Capt. Wentworth has become wealthy while Anne's father is in reduced circumstances in the wake of reckless extravagance. A series of circumstances ensue which prevent Anne and Wentworth from expressing their mutual and inevitable love. The film's success depends entirely on the subtle, superb performances of Root and Hinds. The film builds slowly, occasionally leaving you wondering if anything at all is going to happen. When it does, you realize how carefully crafted a film this is, and the final result is grandly rewarding. --Jeff Shannon

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