Saturday, April 07, 2007

Friday Film Night - Jane Austen Season

This week at The Pink Heart Society our very own Trish Wylie breaks away from the big screen to talk about the small screen - and the brand new series of Jane Austen films that have left her debating casting with Natasha Oakley...

It all started with a rather tempting set of ads...

And so I, like half the nation probably, was tempted to give up two hours every Sunday night for the last few weeks while I watched Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion... (thanks heavens for repeats of Grey's Anatomy is all I have to say!!!)
And anyway, I mean, it's all romance isn't it? And sometimes just to drown yourself a little in all that angst and passion is what we writer's need to go back to our current WIP with a little more purpose (and that's my excuse for procrastination this week and I'm sticking to it - so there!) It wasn't wasted time either... because there's nothing quite like a new potential hero or two to make a gal go all inspired and all...

First up was Mansfield Park with Billie Piper and Blake Ritson taking on the roles of Fanny and Edmund... Billie Piper's hair was a tad too modern day for me (yes - I am just that critical...) and Blake played Edmund as a genuinely nice kind of a guy. Sweet... cute... not particularly bathed in angst or pain... so I have to say it just missed the mark a little for me. Maybe that's a sign that I'm a drama queen at heart? But it did leave me wondering at the end who I preferred as Edmund - Blake or Jonny Lee Miller?? For me, Frances O'Connor's version of Fanny won hands down, I dunno, she just looked more Austen-esque to me. And Billie Piper just didn't sell the emotion to me as well as she did when she was parted by alternative universes from David Tennant's Doctor Who (yes I wept when he wept!) But as always with we Pink-hearters it became a hero debate; Jonny or Blake... Blake or Jonny... Mmmm... Warm and fuzzy of 6/10 for me I'm afraid. (Though when Edmund knew who it was he wanted it was sweet.)

Next up was Northanger Abbey with Felicity Jones as Catherine and JJ Feild as Henry. Now this one was better I thought, and it proved to be Natasha's favourite... Felicity was lovely as Catherine, very young, disgustingly pretty, very much the Austen heroine in my mind... And JJ Feild was great too, especially when he was so very disappointed by Catherine's naivete. It was just the ending that ruined it for me. It was way too abrupt. Not that the kiss in the bushes wasn't passionate, oh my yes, or that the scene where he cleans the dirt from her face after they're caught in the rain wasn't very very sweet, oh yes - sigh. The ending was just. Just. Yep, exactly that abrupt... Now I haven't seen the film version that was made in 1986 with Katherine Schlesinger and Peter Firth so maybe any of you who have can tell me what that one was like... I'm not sure I would change the casting in this one. If it weren't for that darned ending!!! Though I'm sure Natasha will have something to say when I give it a mere 7/10 in the Warm and Fuzzy rating...

Then came Persuasion with Sally Hawkins as Anne and Rupert Penry-Jones as Frederick. Frankly gals - they had me at Rupert... THIS was MY favourite. Now Natasha will complain that Sally's version of Anne was too dark and depressed... my answer to that would be that if you'd given up Rupert then you'd have been flipping depressed too!!! I loved this. From the dark, silent looks that Frederick gave Sally to the moment he lifted her up like she weighed nothing to set her on the carriage to - oh my - that kiss in the street after Anne had chased all over town looking for him. He had sooooooooo much pent up passion and she sooooooo knew she loved him and thought she couldn't have him. And then there was the dance on the lawn. Sigh. For me, Rupert's Captain Frederick Wentworth is right up there with Colin Firth's Darcy. (steps back from computer in case stones fly...) Sorry. But it is. And Natasha can tell me all she wants that Ciaran Hinds version of the role in the film with Amanda Root was better or more convincing or he was closer to the age he should have been yada yada yada - but frankly I'm just gonna stick my fingers in my ears and go tra la la. Just take your good selves another wee trip to Youtube here and you'll see what I mean! Watched it yet? Well GO and then come back and tell me it doesn't look every bit as lovely as it was... So my warm and fuzzy is a 9/10 - and it only loses that one point cos it wasn't ME as Anne...

This week they're showing Emma with Kate Beckinsale in the lead role and Mark Strong as Knightley. And already Natasha and I have had a discussion and this time we agree that Jeremy Northam made a better Knightley... so we just need someone to swap round Kate and Gwyneth Paltrow please...

All of the new Jane Austin movies are out on DVD at Amazon for Region 2 Players and are due to hit the States later this year. You can see the channel's promotion material here.

So who would you have swapped round - which Darcy did it for you - which Rochester? If you saw the new series maybe you can see if you agree with Natasha or me...???

Trish's latest release is for the Romance line. Rescued: Mother-To-Be is a Romantic Times Top Pick for April! And was recently reviewed over at The Pink Heart Society's Review Blog...

The book is available at both Amazon and EHarlequin. To find out more you can visit her Website or her Blog.


  1. Billie Piper has dyed blonde hair with ROOTS. That just doesn't do it for me. And I know everyone says she's great but I don't get why she never moves her mouth when she speaks. AND it *really* irritated me that the ball became a picnic. AND ... AND why did she not go to visit her family???? I will not be buying that DVD!

    I agree the ending of Northanger Abbey was rushed. It's also my least favourite Jane Austen ... but I still maintain it was a good adaptation. And very much better than the Katherine Schlesinger and Peter Firth version - though I will admit it's a long time since I saw it.

    Persuasion was ridiculous! Firstly, Sally Hawkins just wasn't pretty enough. I see no reason why she had to have her hair caked down to that extent. Also, she's no longer in the first bloom of youth she's only 28 for goodness sake!

    Amanda Root was PERFECT. And that has absolutely nothing to do with the fact she went to my drama school.

    I will allow Rupert Penry-Jones made a fine Captain. It's really quite amazing he's as sexy as he is. (His mother was Penelope Keith's sidekick in 'To The Manor Born'.)

    But ...

    All that running was ridiculous. A baronet's daughter just wouldn't have done it. Silly.

    As for next week ...? I already own it. Kate as Emma is lovely but I do miss Jeremy Northam as Mr Knightley. Quite a bit actually! vbg.

  2. Oooh forgot to say, Toby Stephens is a wonderful Rochester. I've bought that, too!

    As for Darcy ..? Tricky! Matthew MacFayden is a brilliant actor and I totally believed his portrayal. It's not a fair comparison, though. Colin Firth had so much more screen time.

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  4. Hmmm. I wonder when they'll be here...but...MANSFIELD PARK is a fave of mine (I did a paper on it that sealed my A+ grade and pushed my gpa ove the 4 point line, so I forever love it)...but Edmund without angst? Then he's just an idiot...right?

    OK...when they make it here, I'll be wanting to chat this up on the PHS Yahoo loop. Count on it.