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Parents' Guide to

Modern Persuasion

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Bland Austen modernization has drinking, innuendo.

Movie NR 2020 87 minutes
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What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

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This flat Austen update is a missed opportunity to bring the author's oldest, most mature heroine to a new generation of viewers. While it makes sense that Wren (the Anne Elliot character) would be a thirtysomething career woman second-guessing her long-ago decision not to accept Owen's (the Wentworth stand-in) proposal to follow her to California when they were in their twenties, other elements of Modern Persuasion seem too thinly connected to the material. There's little left here about class snobbery and social mores; instead, this version is a standard second-chance romance with a few familiar plot points (like a pretty younger friend's injury and a best friend mourning the loss of his fiancee). The only imaginative part of the update is the conversation that Wren has with Sam (Dominic Rains), the Benwick of this version. Rather than discuss and quote melancholy Romantic poets, they have an entire conversation about the depressing poetry of New Wave musicians like The Smiths, Joy Division, and the Cure.

That one wink-wink nod to Generation X audiences aside, the movie is an underwhelming interpretation of Austen's book. Those interested in the story would be much better off watching the 1995 adaptation with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds -- or, better yet, the 2007 BBC version with Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones. At the very least, the directors of Modern Persuasion manage to include the name Wentworth (Wren's beloved cat) and a few lines from the famous love letter that Wentworth writes to Anne: "You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope." Owen is right -- that really is one of the best love letters in literary history. Although the filmmakers do get a nod for featuring a diverse cast, the movie itself lacks the emotional gravity of previous adaptations.

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