Sunday, October 16, 2011

BBC Sense & Sensibility (2008)

It's impossible not to compare this series with Ang Lee's movie but each one has a different approach to Jane Austen's novel.

Andrew Davies decided to spice up things and give more sexual tension to this story, especially between Marianne and Willoughby. The opening scene is a perfect way to grab the viewers attention and wonder who the young couple is.

The two Dashwood sisters are marvelously played by two young actresses: Charity Wakefield (Marianne), who kept all the freshness and impetuosity of her young years, and Hattie Monahan (Elinor), always so practical with her good sense and hidden feelings.

Like all those who liked Emma Thompson's adaptation, I was a bit afraid to see the new Col. Brandon. Who could do better than Alan Rickman ?! That was simply not possible, right?! Well, David Morrissey was up to the task and he gives us a very good performance. This man simply filled the screen each time he appeared. He is tall, strong, protective, wise, he likes music and a good conversation. Just a perfect Jane Austen hero! When he holds Marianne during the party when she meets Willoughby again, I could only sigh and wish for more.

In this version we get to see more about Marianne and Brandon's relationship. Somehow, I think I needed to see their love growing for each other to make their ending more real, something that we do not see in Thompson’s adaptation.

While watching the first episode and when I saw for the first time Edward Ferrars (Dan Stevens), I immediately saw a more handsome Hugh Grant. Same shaggy hair, the blue eyes, the hesitant and shy attitude, but with a little something more.

Dominic Cooper as Willoughby worked quite well, even if I expected to see a much more handsome actor. He clearly lacks the finesse of a Greg Wise, but in the novel he is rather young and not all that polished. The actor even manages to create a repellent and sleazy character who can only see his own interests without any care for others. But, in the end, Cooper doesn't really achieve to deliver a more passionate and even ambiguous Willoughby. The scene where he returns to talk to Marianne at the end seems forced and not really captivating...

While following the novel pretty close, this version lacks the usual Austen humor, especially the scenes with the Palmers and the Middleton's. I missed this terribly ! One of my favourite moments in Ang Lee S&S are the scenes with Mr. Palmer (Hugh Laurie).

One of my favourite aspects of this adaptation : the Dorset seacoast landscape. The scenery is beautiful and breathtaking. You cannot help to fall in love for the region.


  1. I enjoyed your comparison of the two movie adaptations. I am a wierdy and actually appreciate their predecessor, the BBC version, too.
    Thank you for your posting.

  2. The scenery is gorgeous. David Morrisey is one of my favorite British actors, after seeing him in Blackpool. I think one of the things I like the best about this adaptation, is that the age the cast looks more reflects the ages Jane gave the characters.

    If you liked Dan Stevens, you must watch Downton Abbey, if you haven't yet. He's great in it.

  3. Ah you make want to go and watch these 2 period dramas again... maybe during the weekend. ;-)

    Sarah what a coincidence, the first episode of Downton Abbey aired here yesterday and I definitely plan to watch the whole series.