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Persuasion: One for the Books


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Despite the 200-year difference between the publishing of Jane Austen’s Persuasion and the creation of the film Persuasion starring Dakota johnson, it is clear that our love for Austen’s elaborate and slow-burning romance stories has not diminished in the slightest. Netflix’s hottest summer release depicts a regency-era Dakota Johnsons as the beloved Anne Elliot and British actor Cosmo Jarvis as everyone’s favorite love interest Captain Fredrick Wentworth. As one of Austen’s last novels, it holds a level of maturity and understanding of the world that isn’t seen in previous novels like Pride and Prejudice.

While some have mourned the loss of naivety that is so prevalent in Austen’s early works the more adult themes such as violence and tragedy are what make Persuasion such an intense and exciting piece of work. Furthermore, it is this intensity that allows Persuasion to remain relevant even in today’s media. Anne Elliot’s forward thinking and stoic outlook on life create a space for her character within the 21st century.

Dakota Johnson as Anne Elliot on Movie Poster for Persuasion

Johnson breaks the fourth wall consistently throughout the movie, truly making it feel like you are reading through Anne Elliot’s dramatic diary, or following an Instagram influencer through a public breakup. The degradation of this boundary permits British director Carrie Cracknell to fully realize the intentions of Austen’s Persuasion. This novel was not meant to be another love story but an ode to Anne Elliot and those alike who found happiness without marriage in a world that so readily disregards single women.

Cracknell’s extensive background in British Theatre has enabled her to examine the text from both a director’s and playwright’s point of view, which can be an exciting yet destructive combination. However, her decision to bring Persuasion to the big screen was nothing less than perfection. While the story contains its own modern themes such as the importance of the female voice as well as its frustrations, it utilizes a very diverse cast in order to reflect the audience it is made for. Taking a page from Bridgertons book Persuasion depicts a harmonious multiracial society. Some have argued that including a racially diverse cast isn’t true to the time period in which the story is based, however, it is a fictional piece of work and doesn’t need to be accurate. In fact, the creation of films from books should always take certain creative and logistical liberties, and realizing that when it comes to art, race shouldn’t be a factor, is what makes Persuasion such a successful film.

Henry Golding and Cosmo Jarvis

Persuasion has certainly caught the attention of the public as it topped Netflix’s top ten after its release. While the diverse representation, feminism, and modernity of the film are inspiring it’s really the fun old-timey outfits that made us fall in love. The whirlwind romance between Captian Wentworth and Anne Elliot is displayed in the most frustratingly perfect manner. With a classic will they won’t they storyline and a cast filled with Hollywood heartthrobs it’s difficult not to rewatch this movie over and over again. As a die-hard Austen fan, Crackwells take on one of her best novels has quickly become my favorite adaption of an Austen masterpiece, and is certainly worth a watch… or two.

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