Dakota Johnson. Henry Golding. Jane Austen. How does something with THIS much potential become so misguided and so bland and just a bad adaptation? It truly is baffling how Persuasion is such a miss, considering the cast is beyond capable of delivering better performances than given here, and the direction is absolutely mind boggling for a choice. However, with everyone at least attempting to do the work justice, and giving performances that they can stand behind, at least their enthusiasm and beautifulness is something to watch, even if the final product is far less polished.
The first and biggest issue with this new adaptation of Persuasion is that it feels unfaithful to the source material. That’s a big issue because it is Austen and anyone whose a fan of Austen is going to already be dismissive and angry at the final product because of that. However, whats weirder is the directing choices that first time director Carrie Cracknell vouches for. Having Anne, played by Dakota Johnson, continuously break the fourth wall, and talk directly to the audience is so jarring and out of place it almost entirely takes you out of the film itself. This is the biggest detractor personally and truly makes this adaptation weird and unsettling.
However, the cast is undeniably exceptional and even though some of them are miscast for the role and feel out of place their ability to deliver top notch performances and have chemistry and character ooze out of them does not go unnoticed. Richard E Grant in the role of Sir Walter Elliot captures the posh self-absorbed persona that the character demands, while Dakota Johnson’s Anne seems to be stuck between a rock and a hard place in deciding if she wants to be married or if that ship has long since sailed since Wentworth, Cosmo Jarvis, was the desired suitor she had in mind but lost that chance a whiles back.
While this adaptation of Austen is certainly unfaithful to the original story, there is small tidbits of things that will please its audience. While the characters do things that are uncharacteristic to the story that people know and cherish, the new direction while odd may be welcomed amongst unknowing fans. While there is certainly a lot of changes that are brought upon in Ron Bass and Alice Victoria Winslow’s adaptation of the Austen work, and Carrie Cracknell takes some creative liberties, the performances from the cast but that specifically of Dakota Johnson certainly will hold together the casual fans attention.