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'Persuasion' review: Talented cast is pulled down by a flat script

Movie Reviews

‘Persuasion’ review: Talented cast is pulled down by a flat script

Talented cast with a flat script.

I went into Persuasion pretty much blind. While I knew this was an adaptation of a Jane Austen novel, I’ve never read it. I had some hope I would like this better than others who are Austen fans and have expressed their disappointment at this new adaptation. What I discovered as I approached the end of this is that it really doesn’t matter whether you’re a Jane Austen fan or not because this simply isn’t a well written film. The cast involved are very talented and try their hardest to carry this on their backs but that effort proves futile when you’re saddled with a lumbering script that does little to rally interest.

Persuasion’s story is one that has plenty of potential. I was hoping for a sweeping romantic period piece with well developed leads. What Netflix has made definitely is not that. This is a period piece where Dakota Johnson pines after an ex lover she has zero chemistry with for an hour and forty five minutes.

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The only aspects of this script that actually work are the scenes where Johnson and her sisters or female friends are alone confiding in one another. Those scenes at least have an amusing nature about them. It’s never a good sign when minor scenes in a film are far more entertaining than the films main selling point.

This film’s main selling point is a dull romance between two people that, in my opinion, couldn’t form a spark between them with a match. It’s a wonderful feeling to watch a romance with leads that have electric sweet chemistry and I wanted that here but their connection just feels off. The film tries to egg it on and make you believe these two are madly in love but it never rings true.

The subplot that is introduced around the midway point is Henry Golding’s character, who’s making it his business to woo Dakota Johnson. This proves to be even LESS interesting than the main “romance” between Johnson and Cosmo Jarvis. I really enjoy Henry Golding as an actor and loved him in A Simple Favor but he’s really stuck in a nothing role here.

persuasion

It’s surprising how little his character matters to the story. His presence doesn’t really change anything at all and his character doesn’t even make things more interesting. Like Dakota Johnson, Golding is stuck in a bad film that really doesn’t know what to do with him.

I really hate this for Johnson because she is a fine actress and I so enjoyed her in films such as Bad times at the El Royale, The Peanut Butter Falcon, and The High Note. Her performance in the film isn’t bad. She really does try her best but she’s constrained by a flat script that doesn’t seem to know how to tell an investing story or develop a convincing romance.

'Persuasion' review: Talented cast is pulled down by a flat script

It is shocking how devoid of true emotion and feeling this film is. This is another one of those films that is really pretty to look at but hollow on the inside. Amongst all this unfortunate negativity, there are several fleeting positives. My favorite thing about this film is funnily enough the closing credits because of a really lovely song entitled “Quietly Yours” by Birdy. The song is very soothing and sweet. I just wish a quality film would have been attached to it!

I also did enjoy some of Johnson’s performance. Even though the script doesn’t aid her, she can’t help but shine through at certain moments because of her talent. The final detail that I really liked was Nikki Amuka-Bird, who plays Lady Russell and is simply delightful in the role. Like I said, these positives are minor and fleeting and certainly aren’t prominent enough to warrant a recommendation.

Persuasion is a poorly written film that does its talented cast a disservice. This is for sure one to skip.

'Persuasion' review: Talented cast is pulled down by a flat script
‘Persuasion’ review: Talented cast is pulled down by a flat script
Persuasion
Persuasion is a poorly written film that fails to support its talented cast. The best thing about this is the closing credits song.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Closing credits song
Moments of Johnsons performance work
Flat script
Lack of romantic chemistry
Pointless characters
Awkward attempts at cheekiness
3.5
Meh

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