Saturday, March 28, 2015

Sense and Sensibility

Movie Name: Sense and Sensibility
Year of Release: 1995
Director: Ang Lee
Stars: Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant, Gemma Jones, James Fleet, Greg Wise, Harriet Walter, Imelda Staunton, Imogen Stubs, Hugh Laurie,
Genre: Drama, Romance
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7

Celebrated director Ang Lee premiered his adaptation of Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility" in 1995 to universal acclaim, following two films that had been equally critically well received, namely "The Wedding Banquet" and "Eat Drink Man Woman". "Sense and Sensibility" focuses on the story of the Dashwood family, in particular the three daughters from that clan. The girls, alongside their mother, find themselves in a difficult situation, following the death of patriarch, who by law must leave the bulk of his estate to his son, from his first marriage. The women are left with almost no income, and are taken by a kind cousin. The lack of a suitable dowry, makes the situation of finding a suitable suitor for the two older sisters a bit more complicated. The quiet and sensible Elinor forms an emotional attachment to Edward Ferrars, the brother of her sister-in-law, whereas Marianne falls for the dashing John Willoughby, who unbknowst to her, has his fair share of issues and problems. These relationships are all put through some challenges, as the women navigate society, monetary interests and personal emotions.
Working from a script adapted by Emma Thompson herself, Ang Lee stages the story of the Dashwood family with a naturalism and lack of artificialism, that grounds the story and characters in a time where women had little rights and where the intricate details and arrangements of finding a suitable marriage was the focus of many families. The two central characters, the romantic Marianne and the guarded Elinor are the windows, which allow us to understand the habits and the delicate arrangements of this society. Ang Lee successfully captures all these nuances, allowing for the characters to be flushed out with nuance, never allowing situations or characters to become caricatures. The actors are uniformly good, particularly Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman. The cinematography from Michael Coulter is lovely, as is the score from Patrick Doyle. A very good film from a fantastic director.