Tuesday, December 22, 2009

best films: #56: SENSE AND SENSIBILITY (1995)

Previously rated and blogged at #61
Nothing quite does it like a fancy, shiny, costumey period piece. If its source material is penned by Jane Austen, well, you've generally got yourself a fairly enjoyable theatrical experience. Sense and Sensibility is no exception and is probably the best and strongest Austen adaptation you can find. (In film, that is; for the absolute best, see 1996's TV miniseries Pride and Prejudice, which is ineligible for this list, of course.) Buoyed by a fantastic adaptation written by the star herself, Emma Thompson, who is in fine form as usual (is there no end to this woman's entertainment value?), the movie also boasts the arguable breakthrough from Kate Winslet (who managed her very first Oscar nomination playing Marianne Dashwood in a brilliant star-making turn). Chalk the rest of its appeal up to the curmudgeonly but easy-to-love Colonel Brandon, played by Alan Rickman in his first match-up with Thompson (the second being the complicated relationship they shared in Love Actually, which also provided us with an unsung performance by the great Emma Thompson). But the primary rule of thumb for these types of films is that no one gets anywhere without some genius costume design and some very pretty countrysides, so thank frequent Academy Award magnet team Jenny Beavan and John Bright for her skill with a thread and needle.

Standout Performance: Thompson's true starring role is as the screenwriter, and it's clear that a star has been born in Winslet thanks to this flick from the eclectic yet basically reliable director Ang Lee. Winslet's younger Miss Dashwood had me at the sprained ankle in the rain...

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I love how Emma Thompson is so good in this that she makes us completely ignore the fact that she should be playing Marianne and Margaret's mom, not one of them.
She was a young woman back then, but one of the things about Austen is that her heroines are practically teenagers. A spinster back then was someone who turned 25 and was unmarried, but whatever she's just so delightful and her writing is spectacular.
I love that she did uncredited job for "Pride and Prejudice" too. In the way her ex husband got Shakespeare, she gets Austen.