Every few years, Jane Austen fans emerge from the depths of the internet to lambast any adaptation that comes their way. They’ll rant, rave and cry about how the filmmakers have missed the point of Austen’s work, afterwards returning to their deep slumber to wait for the next opportunity to slither out of what we assume are Victorian-era cosplay houses. When it comes to the new adaptation of Persuasion, however, I stand arm-in-arm with them. Even if I have not read Austen’s 1817 novel of the same name, I know blasphemy when I see it.
In the film, poor Anne Elliot (Dakota Johnson) broke off a relationship with the dashing Frederick (Cosmo Jarvis) some years ago due to social/class pressures. But he’s now a respectable captain and wealthy beyond expectation. Circumstances push Freddy to join the very same social circle of one Mary Elliot, Anne’s sister, at whose home our heroine just so happens to be staying. Johnson then cries a lot, breaks the fourth wall to tell the audience useless information that’s intended to be funny (it isn’t) and, at one point, expresses to someone how she occasionally dreams an octopus is sucking on her face. How relatable!
Persuasion is Netflix’s latest entry in its never-ending commitment to content over quality. It is Bridgerton-lite, a worthless, un-oiled copy squeaking along with terrible direction from Carrie Cracknell (A Doll’s House). Johnson either does not or cannot present any comedic skill, and is as charming as a wad of gum here. Take the now internet-infamous moment wherein she turns to the camera and says, out loud and shamelessly, “We’re worse than strangers—we’re exes!” Ugh. Who do you think you are? Fleabag?! And yes, if you’re wondering, Austen’s rich dialogue is replaced with modern speak in Persuasion, which is dreadful.
Persuasion is also patently boring. So boring that, with abhorrent everything, it becomes a snobbish and amateurish production gone full-throttle on bad ideas. Let it sink to the depths of Netflix’s library and henceforth be skipped over by even the most desperate viewers.
+A few decent performances hidden in there
-Just an overall dreadful experience
Directed by Cracknell
With Johnson, Jarvis and Henry Golding
Netflix, NR, 109 min