Following up on my fascination with Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, I watched another movie adaptation, Sense & Sensibilities (1995), which is based on her 1811 “novel of manners” – i.e., according to Wikipedia, a literary genre that deals with aspects of behavior, language, customs and values characteristic of a particular class of people in a specific historical context.
This romantic drama is blessed with a strong cast, including Emma Thompson (Howards End), Kate Winslet (Titanic), Alan Rickman (Hans Gruber in Die Hard), and Hugh Grant (Notting Hill). As with the Bennet ladies in Pride & Prejudice, the protagonist females in Sense & Sensibilities – Elinor and Marianne Dashwood – are part of the landed gentry (i.e., people able to live off the rental income of their real estate), but due to male primogeniture their all-female brood is in danger of losing its lofty status.
Although many men (and women) of Austen’s time (as well as our current time) place heavy emphasis on social and financial standing in selecting their life partner, the Dashwood sisters are lucky to find two gentleman who place more stock on making a selection based on romantic love.
The movie scored an amazing 98% with the Rotten Tomato critics and almost as well with the audience – 90%. Plus, there were Oscar nominations for the movie and Thompson’s acting and her script. (Thompson claims the movie dialogue didn’t track the book as faithfully as adaptations of later Austin books because the dialogue in this book, her first, was more “arcane.”) I didn’t like it as well as Pride & Prejudice because the characters are not as engaging – Thompson is too dispassionate (sense), Winslet is too passionate (sensibility), Grant is effeminate, and Rickman lacks charisma. But I still like it enough to give it three and a half stars out of four.