Yep, it’s a chick flick. And a period drama. The last movie I watched that combined those elements was Vanity Fair, which just about killed me to watch, so I was pretty nervous about this one. I needn’t have worried. Sense and Sensibility is very smartly written, and surprisingly funny.
The screenplay, which won a Golden Globe for Emma Thompson (and her very funny acceptance speech is on the DVD), apparently differs in many respects from the book by Jane Austen, however it doesn’t suffer from the differences. (I haven’t personally read any of Austen’s works, but I understand they are excellent if you like that sort of thing.) The characters are very well drawn and acted, and the story moves along at a good pace for the material and mood, though slower than many movies today (that’s not a cut – merely a warning that if you want fast pacing, stay away). Ang Lee, as director, made a very good use of silence to create awkward moments when you can, for example, only hear silverware clinking, or wind blowing, as characters struggle to relate to each other without divulging their true feelings or the secrets they carry. There were also quite a few beautifully staged shots that struck me as perfect for the scenes they portrayed. I gain more respect for Lee each time I see one of his movies. He is truly a master of his craft.
There were really no problems with this movie at all, honestly, beyond that it’s not my favorite type of movie to begin with. Given that caveat, however, it is excellent.
I’d also add that the commentary by Emma Thompson, star and screenwriter, and her producer was one of the best I’ve ever heard. It’s obvious they truly still love the film. It also does a better job than almost any other commentary I’ve heard at giving a very real sense for how hard it is to pull together the elements needed to create a film of this caliber – the difficulties of the screen-writing, producing, directing, acting, casting, sound, lighting, set design, locations, and more are all discussed, but never using technical jargon. It very much feels like two friends talking and reminiscing about a shared experience, and you get this great education about film-making along the way.
I can’t imagine anyone with any interest in a real story (as opposed to a special effects festival) not liking this movie. Even if you have some reservations because period dramas or romantic melodramas aren’t your thing, give it a shot, if for no other reason that to watch some spectacular actors work within a genius director’s purview. And take a listen to the first of the commentaries, at least for a while.
[tags]Emma Thompson, Jane Austen, Hugh Grant, period dramas, chick flicks, romance, love, duty, honor, women, adaptation[/tags]