While I like comparing beloved classic novels and their big screen adaptations to what a double chocolate whipped cream cake is to a handful of oats, I have to admit that Emma Thompson’s effort with Jane Austen’s tale of love and heartbreak, Sense and Sensibility, turned out to be a remarkable success with its 61 well-deserved nominations. The Oscar-winning screenplay unfolds with a lot of dry wit and very little of the actual book. Cutting out enormous chunks, Thompson tells her own version of the Elinor and Marianne Dashwood (played by Thompson and Kate Winslet) romantic intrigue who, after their father’s death, are left penniless on the street (or rather at the mercy of gracious relatives). This costume drama explores Georgian England in all its flamboyant pomposity, yet manages to compel the modern audience with its timeless, even over-used, theme about the opposition between genuine love and the pursuit of prosperity and social status. The movie lives up to all stereotypical expectations of the genre, yet director Ang Lee’s brilliant creative vision and, nonetheless, good old charmer Hugh Grant who, even in his old-fashioned garments, is…well, good old charmer Hugh with all his bits and quirks, add up to 136 minutes of pure entertainment that fascinates with its bold simplicity.
Sense and Sensibility
Time Out saysRendered homeless and relatively poor by the patrilineal laws that dictated their father's will, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood (Thompson and Winslet) are not exactly the most marriageable young women in a world where desirability is usually conferred by property and birth. Shy, kindly Edward Ferrars (Grant) - favoured by the pragmatic Elinor - is likely to be disinherited should he marry 'low', while solid Col Brandon (Rickman) is forgotten by the headstrong Marianne as soon as popular, dashing John Willoughby (Wise) appears on the scene. First impressions, however, aren't always reliable. While this is hardly adventurous or original cinema, it's most enjoyable. Thompson's screenplay stays true both to Austen's themes (the gulf between romanticism and materialism, the difference between hearsay, opinion and empirical knowledge) and to her delightfully ironic wit. Grant is just Grant (albeit with old togs and deeper stammer), and Rickman sometimes looks a little creepy, but Thompson and Winslet give fine performances ably supported by the rest of the ensemble.