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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this romance is fraught with lies, gossip, and manipulation, but very little in the way of sex or violence. Two people fall and injure themselves seriously -- one, a child and one a teenage girl. The child falls off-screen and is carried limply back to his home. The teen falls on-screen and appears for a moment to have died.
What's the story?
Anne Elliot (Amanda Root) is a quiet, inquisitive woman who must do battle daily with the petty insults and parental neglect of her social-climbing father and sister. Anne also has a past that has robbed the color from her cheeks and left her sad: Years ago, she fell in love with and planned to marry a sailor, Fredrick Wentworth (Ciaran Hinds). Then her family, sure that he was a man with no connections to improve their social rank, nixed the marriage. But the tables have turned on Anne's family since then. Anne's irresponsible father (Corin Redgrave) has run up massive debt and they retreat to Bath. There Anne sees Fredrick again, who is now not only the captain of a ship but also wealthy. She's also wooed by a dashing young man with questionable motives. The scheming local ladies, and their lack of regard for Anne -- whom they find plain-looking and even too old to be a good match anymore -- make a happy romantic ending even more challenging.
Is it any good?
Kids who loved the modern Jane Austen-inspired movies like Clueless, or warmed up to Austen with Keira Knightly's turn in Pride & Prejudice, may find this a bit boring and slow-moving at first. But if they can stay in there, they'll be rewarded with a satisfying love story featuring a strong, smart lead character worth applauding. It takes till about halfway through the 100-minute film for the romance to get going, and when it does, it's in a demure, Jane Austen way. There's no cornering of Anne in a coat room. There are no Sex and the City hijinx. There are only moments when Fredrick offers Anne his umbrella or when her other suitor admits to wanting to flatter Anne for the rest of her life. Subtle at first, but many longing glances later lead the viewer to an attraction that positively crackles.
And because this is an adaptation of an Austen novel, Anne is smart, well-read, and kind. She's not the prettiest girl, but she's the most confident. She's the kind of girl most young female viewers might want to be friends with -- and whom they might also want to emulate. Especially as children hit the age when they are conducting Austen-like reconnaissance on their crushes du jour, Anne's restraint and sense of self are very instructive.
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