Sense is essential for keeping one grounded,
But too much can leave one a bit too well-rounded.
Sensibility’s fancies are quick to believe,
But too much can leave one a bit too naïve.
A good balanced blending of both can perchance
Improve one’s approach to both life and romance.
MPAA rating: PG
This is another review that could be considered a VC pick, since my VC has been expecting a review of Sense and Sensibility for a while, but this is also a personal resolve for me to finally review this movie before I forget about it. Yes, I’ve seen Sense and Sensibility twice before and could have reviewed it sooner if the details of its plot weren’t so quick to vacate my brain. It’s a shame really that I find it so forgettable because it truly is an excellent adaptation of Jane Austen’s first novel, thanks to the elegant but accessible Oscar-winning screenplay by Emma Thompson, who also stars as Elinor Dashwood.
Elinor and her sister Marianne (fresh-faced Kate Winslet), along with their mother and younger sister, are brought low from wealth to relative poverty when their father’s inheritance all goes to their unsympathetic half-brother. While they make a home in the cottage of some annoyingly garrulous distant relatives, the Dashwood sisters face the hopes and crushing disappointments of 18th-century romance while employing their contrasting approaches to love, namely Elinor’s sense (realism) or Marianne’s sensibility (romanticism).
The entire production has the authenticity of a classic, from the sophisticated costumes to the rolling English countrysides to Ang Lee’s spare but graceful direction (his first English-language feature). Likewise, all the players fill their roles gracefully, especially Thompson and Winslet, who were both nominated for acting Oscars. Alan Rickman also outdoes himself as the thoroughly sympathetic Colonel Brandon, shedding his Hans Gruber-ness with the ease of a seasoned actor. Even Hugh Laurie makes a nice if brief impression as a grumpy husband whose irritability is a humorous contrast to the exuberance of his wife (Imelda Staunton). The only one who seems out of his element is Hugh Grant as Elinor’s semi-beloved Edward Ferrars. While the character is meant to be a bit wooden and “sedate,” Grant captures that stiffness so well that he seems a little too awkward at times.
Despite this and even with a potentially ungainly number of characters to keep up with, Sense and Sensibility’s characters are what I most remembered, whereas what actually happens to them, while alternately sad, sweet, or surprisingly funny at the time, just doesn’t make much of an impression once the credits are done. I’m not sure why either, since I easily recognize it as a well-acted incarnation of Jane Austen sensibilities. True, Austen’s stories have never been among my favorites in style or substance, but a good movie is a good movie. Even if it doesn’t live long in the memory for me personally, Sense and Sensibility is still an admirable rendition of this Austen classic.
Best line: (Colonel Brandon, of Marianne) “She is wholly unspoilt.”
(Elinor) “Rather too unspoilt, in my view. The sooner she becomes acquainted with the ways of the world, the better.”
(Colonel Brandon) “I knew a lady very like your sister, the same impulsive sweetness of temper, who was forced into, as you put it, a better acquaintance with the world. The result was only ruination and despair. Do not desire it, Miss Dashwood.”
Rank: List Runner-Up
© 2017 S.G. Liput
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