Monday, October 25, 2010

Review: Sense and Sensibility

If you are looking for a good, inexpensive movie to buy, Sense and Sensibility is definitely a great choice. It has a recognizable cast and it's filled with great acting.

Box Art
Sense and Sensibility follows the story of two sisters: sensible Elinor Dashwood (Emma Thompson) and passionate Marianne Dashwood (Kate Winslet). When their father Mr. Henry Dashwood (Tom Wilkinson) dies, his property, Norland, is passed to his son from his first marriage, John Dashwood (James Fleet). Before he died, Henry Dashwood made John promise to take care of his current wife and three daughters (Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret). John promises to take care of them and wants to give them some money, but he is persuaded by his wife, Fanny, not to. Meanwhile, the Dashwood women prepare to receive John and Fanny, and when they arrive, Fanny announces that her brother Edward Ferrars (Hugh Grant) will be joining them. Edward arrives and him and Elinor form an attachment, which is broken off by Fanny.

The cast represented the characters well. I read Sense and Sensibility, and I think that the characters are accurately portrayed in this movie. While the storyline is not exact to the book (there had been scenes and characters taken out), you do get a good sense of what the remaining characters should be like. Also, many of the actors and actresses are very well known: besides Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet, there is also Gemma Jones (Bridget Jones's Diary) as Mrs. Dashwood, Alan Rickman (The Barchester Chronicles) as Colonel Brandon, Imelda Staunton (Cranford) as Mrs. Palmer, and Hugh Laurie (House) as Mr. Palmer.

Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon and Emma Thompson
as Elinor Dashwood.
Emma Thompson, who played Elinor, was much older than Elinor was supposed to be: in the book, Elinor was 19, while Emma Thompson was in her mid thirties. Still, despite that, I still think she did a really good job with the role. You really got a sense of how much Elinor was suffering, even though she did not show it outwardly.

Kate Winslet was an appropriately emotional Marianne. You could tell that when she spoke, there was a lot of feeling in her voice. It might have been a little over-the-top to illustrate Jane Austen's point of the ridiculousness of too much sensibility and unrestricted emotional outbursts.

There is more of an emphasis on the male characters in this film, unlike in Austen's novel which focused on the women. Additional scenes were added such as Edward Ferrars and Margaret fencing, Colonel Brandon talking about how Marianne would not love him, etc. I personally didn't mind that they did this, but these are not scenes that are found in the book.

Great scenery! Scenes are in both the manor houses, in the country, and in London. Even though this Sense and Sensibility is not a BBC production, it still features very nice scenery. Though maybe not as bright sometimes as some of the BBC miniseries, there is still some very pretty scenery. You get a wide range in each of the settings: in the country, not only do you see the grounds of the manor houses, but you also get to see some of the wilderness areas.

Elinor's Robe Pelisse: New fashion or handed down?
I love the costumes in this film! The open-faced robes/pelisses that Elinor and Marianne wear are absolutely lovely, but a question about them is still in my mind. Those robes were mainly popular around 1795, over a decade before Sense and Sensibility was published. Which leads me to ask "What year was this set in?" I would say maybe around 1795, but in the scene where Marianne sprains her ankle, you can see that she is wearing a pair of drawers, which were not worn until 1806 and only by few women. Maybe the robes were handed down to both Elinor and Marianne? I don't know. Not a big deal, but just something that I was wondering about.

The other costumes are also well done. I noticed on one of Mrs. Jennings's (Elizabeth Spriggs) dresses, there was a bit of leopard print on it. Perhaps it was to show that she was wealthy? It was an interesting touch.

The music, composed by Patrick Doyle, reflects the overall theme of the story. While not a depressing story, Sense and Sensibility does have a more serious overtone than Pride and Prejudice or Emma. The Dashwood women are in a very serious situation in which there is very little money coming in, and they have very little means of earning much money. The music was very flowing and pretty, but few songs had an upbeat tone to them (I can only think of two). Unfortunately for the CD soundtrack, the songs sung by Kate Winslet were not included in the CD. The two songs on the CD (Weep You No More Sad Fountains and The Dreame) were instead sung by Jane Eaglen. I was a little disappointed about this because I thought that Kate Winslet sang both songs beautifully, but the rest of the soundtrack was very nice.

Overall: 4/5
This film is a very good choice if you want to show a class the main points of Sense and Sensibility. It is not exact to the book (so I would recommend actually reading the book to fill in any questions that you might have that might not be explained by solely watching the movie), but the characters are accurate and believable. The acting is well done and the scenery and costumes are absolutely lovely.

Sense and Sensibility runs for 2 hours and 16 minutes. It is available on DVD, and is rated PG.


  1. I like this movie a lot. It's a good one! P&P is definitely one I like more, and the 2009 Emma, but this one is good. And it does mostly follow the book, though there are some scenes in the book that aren't in the movie that I think should have been included.

  2. Charity U,
    I agree with you about the scenes. I also think they should have had Lady Middleton and Anne Steele in the movie. There didn't really seem to be a good reason that they were left out.

    Thank you for your comment :-).

  3. Lady Middleton and Anne Steele are in the new one! And Miss Steele is hilarious. ;-) That's one of the ways I like the 2008 mini-series better than this movie; it's closer to the book in many ways.


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