JANE AUSTEN MOVIE CLUB: Sense & Sensibility (2008), pt. 2

Welcome back to Risky Regencies’ JANE AUSTEN MOVIE CLUB!

Today we’re discussing the new SENSE & SENSIBILITY, particularly its second half.

If you’d like to look at last week’s discussion, or the cast list for this adaptation, just click here.

So: what did you think???

All comments welcome!

Cara King, author of MY LADY GAMESTER, in which no one chops logs and men rarely take off their coats

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Diane Gaston
14 years ago

I liked it a lot. LOVED Dan Stevens, who made Edward seem very human and so likable that you could understand why Elinor loved him. Plus he was so cute.

Lots was condensed, the whole Lucy part, so that I wondered if someone who didn’t know the story could follow it.

Showing Marianne’s affections turning from Willoughby to Brandon made sense, but that isn’t the way I thought of it. I liked that in the book and the Ang Lee version, she knew Willoughby loved her and she, loving him, could understand why he made the choice to marry someone else. That showed even more maturity. OTOH I liked seeing her fall in love with Brandon. And I liked this Brandon, even though he wasn’t Alan Rickman.

The sword fight was stupid and unnecessary.

But I enjoyed this version a lot!!

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon
14 years ago

I ended up quite pleased with this version of S&S. Emma Thompson/Ang Lee version will always have first place in my heart but there is room for this one as well. I’m glad that they included the scene at dinner with Mrs. Ferrars. It explained alot about Fanny, and what kind of mother-in-law that Elinor was going to end up saddled with. I liked Lucy’s sister revealing the truth about Edward and Lucy, although I adored the scene in the Ang Lee version where Lucy tells Fanny and Fanny throws her out. I found the scene between Brandon and Willoughby fighting the duel odd. Was that a flashback or happening in real time? Did he call Willoughby out for his treatment of Marianne and his ward and why would he wait until they were in London when he already knew Willoughby had ruined his ward?

There were so many wonderful scenes in this version, Elinor and Edward standing several feet apart but you can feel the yearning between them when she tells him about Colonel Brandon’s offer. The look on his face when he comes to call on her in London and then sees Lucy. The frustration he feels when he comes to see them in the country, not being able to tell Elinor the truth.

Willoughby’s apology just made me hate him even more than I did before. I wanted Elinor to tell him that she gave him an A for effort, D for delivery. He still came across as a jerk. Whereas in the Thompson/Lee version, when you see him on his horse from the top of the hill, watching Marianne marry Brandon, you feel his pain and regret without words. I felt this Willoughby just hated getting caught.

Amanda McCabe
14 years ago

I enjoyed watching this version, though I think the pacing could have been improved. Part one covered, what, all of 50 pages? And the rest, which was rather complex, had to be crammed into part 2! I also wondered if anyone who hadn’t read the book or seen the previous movie could follow it! And that sword fight was not only unnecessary but confusing. Much like the opening scene.

It’s been a while since I read the book, but I do vaguely remember that Marianne DOES come to love Brandon and see his true worth, even though everyone else seemed to think she was lucky to get him since she lost her “bloom.” 🙂 I much prefered the Marianne/Brandon/Willoughby story in the Thompson film (the Willoughby didn’t look and behave like a slimy toad, for one thing! I actually felt a bit sorry for him when W1 he watches Marianne’s wedding from hsi horse–not at all when W2 tries to make poor-me excuses to Elinor)

But the scenes between Edward and Elinor were so moving! I liked their story so much better than the Thompson movie.

And on an unrelated side note–a friend of mine got 2 puppies this weekend, sisters from the same litter. They are both adorable and have that puppy feistiness, but one is clearly more adventurous. She was having a hard time naming them, so I gave her a suggestion–now there are 2 Maltese puppies out there named Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. 🙂

Elena Greene
14 years ago

Wah! I missed it. Put it on my calendar, got busy with stuff and forgot to look. Sigh. I’ll have to check Netflix.

Janet Mullany
14 years ago

Mostly harmless. I enjoyed it more than Part I, probably because it was more fast-paced; again, I found it very derivative of the Ang Lee version.

And darn, no one bashed their head on that lintel…

Cara King
14 years ago

Elena, some PBS stations rerun Masterpiece — you should check your local schedule and see!

Overall, I had mixed feelings about the production. I thought that although it was longer than the Ang Lee version, parts still weren’t established sufficiently, and other parts seemed repetitive or dragged. I felt no chemistry between Edward and Elinor (sorry!) and little between Marianne and anyone.

I’ll have to think on this further, and see if I can organize my thoughts better!


Cara King
14 years ago

Okay, here are some of my totally random thoughts here:

1) Based on a glimpse I saw of the list of birthdates, I think they set this around 1800.

2) I haven’t seen the Ang Lee film in a while, but I do recall feeling that Edward, and his romance with Elinor, was fully fleshed out. Here, I felt like I never really knew Edward, and I felt like I was being told rather than shown that he and Elinor had fallen in love.

And it’s not because Davies et al didn’t spend time in this version on it…I suspect this part just was better written, directed, and acted in the Lee film, and thus worked better for me.

3) I think Dan Stevens as Edward is very handsome and charming, but I don’t think he’s Austen’s Edward, who “was not handsome, and his manners required intimacy to make them pleasing. He was too diffident to do justice to himself…”

I know a lot of folks here have expressed dissatisfaction with Hugh Grant’s Edward, but I think his Edward is much closer to Austen’s, and if so many of us weren’t distracted by knowing this-and-that about Hugh Grant, or by remembering his other performances, and had never seen him in anything before, I suspect a greater number of us would like his performance. (I like it, quite a lot.)

4) I don’t recall Margaret hiding up trees and under tables in the book…but she did it in both this version and the Ang Lee. Now, I can understand that any screenwriter has to rescue her from the oblivion to which Austen consigned her, but is there no other way than having her hide? And is there no other way of showing Edward’s kindness than him helping her?

5) I think, as with most Austen adaptations, they made the wealthy too wealthy. Norland was stunning, as was Brandon’s place, and Allenham. (Even Barton Cottage changed from Austen’s “small…comfortable and compact” house to a large, old, drafty place, though I think that was more a shift in tone than wealth.)

And also, the poor were sometimes too poor. Elinor at the end, chasing chickens with Edward in rough clothing right outside the house, reminded me of the recent P&P movie. 🙂 Edward has a decent living! He would be living more in the style of Mr. Elton or Henry Tilney, not a struggling farmer…

Also, the Steeles were so very vulgar, and the Ferrars were so very rich, that I really wondered at the Ferrars sending Edward, their oldest son, to be educated by a man who clearly wasn’t much of a gentleman!

Okay, those are my random thoughts for right now. Maybe more later! 🙂


14 years ago

I still prefer the Thompson/Lee version, but the newest version did have a touching moment when Elinor found out Edward had not married–I will admit, I teared up. Overall, not bad.

14 years ago

I have to get it from netflix. I introduced my daughter to Anne of Green Gables, and it went longer than I thought, so I missed the show.

My daughter is a new Anne fan, so I will be buying part two for us.

Everyone’s opinion has me looking forward to viewing S&S

14 years ago

I think I liked this adaptation better than Cara did. (Don’t stare, it does happen sometimes.) I quite liked the casting of the main characters, and the script was good, I thought, though I agree that some parts were too similar to the Ang Lee/Emma Thompson version. I liked the fleshing out of the Brandon/Marianne courtship at the end, too.

I will also disagree with just about everyone and say I liked the sword fight, though I agree its placement in time was unclear. But then, I think most movies are better with a good sword fight. (For example, that was the one thing missing from Sleepless in Seattle.) Although the references in the novel make it seem more likely that the duel would have been fought with pistols.

I do agree that the stately homes were just way, way, way too stately! John is agonizing over parting with three thousand pounds and he lives in a place like that? Please!


14 years ago

I just got to watch it last night and it continued not to disappoint – not by any stretch of the imagination. I adore this Edward and was so tickled that we got another wet shirt thrown in!

I still wish Meg were a bit older; though I did feel badly for Marianne and that scoundrel Mr. W. beats out the other Mr. W! He continued to be as oily here as in Part One.

I liked the sword scene but knew it really was out of place. I like this Brandon almost as much as Alan Rickman. The Steeles were such mushrooms and played that to a tee.

But what I continue not to understand is how an elder son can be overthrown for a younger one. Can a mother disinherit an elder son? Were the Ferrers titled or simply vulgar in both their manners and their money?

So, though I adore Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman I wouldn’t mind switching Brandons and Edwards. And I closed my eyes again and imagined Emma Thompson on screen in Part Two, as I did in Part One.

14 years ago

Santa wrote:

But what I continue not to understand is how an elder son can be overthrown for a younger one. Can a mother disinherit an elder son? Were the Ferrers titled or simply vulgar in both their manners and their money?

The explanation in the film was pretty brief–it is gone into in rather more detail in the book. But basically, the family wealth was not entailed, and had been left completely to the mother, who could leave it where she chose. When she decided to disinherit Edward, she (rather foolishly) took the step of actually settling the money on Robert, which was irrevocable–so when he decided to marry Lucy, she couldn’t change her mind.


Cara King
14 years ago

But what I continue not to understand is how an elder son can be overthrown for a younger one.

To add to what Todd said… In the book, Elinor tells Edward: “The independence she settled on Robert, through resentment against you, has put it in his power to make his own choice; and she has actually been bribing one son with a thousand a year, to do the very deed which she disinherited the other for intending to do.”

So, as Todd says, Mrs. Ferrars at the beginning has total control of the money. After Edward’s engagement to Lucy Steele comes out, in a rage Mrs. Ferrars basically gives a big enough chunk of money to Robert for him to live well off its interest for life, but she still keeps most of the money for herself. So Robert has enough to marry Lucy, and does; but he is at this time cut off from his mother and the rest of the money.

So then, Elinor is thinking that Edward will be cut off with nearly nothing (he only has 2000 pounds of his own), and Robert will get no more than what Mrs. F already gave him, and all the rest of Mrs. F’s money will go to Fanny.

Then Mrs. F takes Edward back, though not very generously; “not the smallest objection was made against Edward’s taking orders for the sake of two hundred and fifty at the utmost; nor was anything promised either for the present or in future, beyond the ten thousand pounds, which had been given with Fanny.”

And ten thousand pounds would give an income of about 500 pounds a year — not wealthy, but 750 was enough enough for E & E to live on in decent comfort and respectability.

But later, Lucy uses her wily ways to kiss up to Mrs. F. Lucy’s “assiduous attentions, and endless flatteries, as soon as the smallest opening was given for their exercise, reconciled Mrs. Ferrars to his [Robert’s] choice, and re-established him completely in her favour.”

So in the end, Lucy gets the money anyway. 🙂


14 years ago

Thanks for explaining that to me. I just got my very own copy of Sense and Sensibility and I cannot wait to dive in and see what else has been done to the story we see on screen.

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