Sense and Sensibility

Movie review by
Ellen MacKay, Common Sense Media
Sense and Sensibility Movie Poster Image
A lush and witty adaptation of Jane Austen's novel.
  • PG
  • 1995
  • 136 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 13 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The importance of family is shown through example, as the sisters face numerous crises of the heart. Discretion is shown to be more favorable than gossip, as the evils of gossip are shown through the behavior of some of the characters. The powerful nature of love is a strong theme, as are empathy and integrity.

Positive Role Models & Representations

For the most part, Elinor maintains a great deal of discretion and reserve in the face of financial and emotional difficulties troubling both her and her sisters.

Violence
Sex

Tame discussions of characters who leave town when their lovers become pregnant. Intense discussions of poetic love, exemplified in Shakespeare's sonnets and in the intensity of the character Marianne.

Language

In one scene, a female dog is referred to as a "bitch."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink wine at dinner and at social occasions; during one dinner, an older couple drinks wine and acts intoxicated as they giggle and gossip and make jokes at the expense of one of the characters.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there's nothing really objectionable for younger kids in Sense and Sensibility, but the plot may be too sophisticated for them to follow, and the film features some emotional intensity. Characters drink wine at dinner and on social occasions; during one dinner, an older couple drinks wine and acts intoxicated as they giggle and gossip and make jokes at the expense of one of the characters. There also are tame discussions of characters who leave town when their lovers become pregnant. In one scene, a female dog is referred to as a "bitch."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 10 year old Written byninoca100 June 30, 2009
Adult Written bySarah Grace August 17, 2010

Teenagers would like this movie if they like Jane Austen...

This is one of my favorite Jane Austen novel-based films. Very nice story. Some of the characters' cleavage showed, although not too often.
Teen, 15 years old Written byanimalloverkt April 9, 2008

I love this movie!!

I'm a HUGE Jane Austen fan, so I love this movie. However, not previously mentioned is a small but well done performance by Hugh Laurie. So dead pan and... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byKass April 9, 2008

Jane Austen would be proud

First of all, let me say that I am in awe of Emma Thompson for taking a book nearly devoid of dialogue and turning it into a witty, authentic-sounding screenpla... Continue reading

What's the story?

Directed by Ang Lee, Emma Thompson's adaptation of the Jane Austen novel follows the Dashwood sisters as they try to redeem a lost fortune by marrying well and end up finding love. Sensible Elinor and sensuous Marianne are left impoverished after their father's death because the law awards their estate to a half-brother. They retreat to a little cottage by the sea and hope to marry well. This is a trying task, however, since Elinor (Emma Thompson) falls for a young man who is previously engaged, and Marianne (Kate Winslet) is literally swept off her feet by a handsome rogue. Despite their marked temperamental differences, Marianne and Elinor are devoted to one another. As they find love, lose it, and find it again, sentimental Marianne learns the value of restraint, and sensible Elinor discovers that composure melts in passion's flame. And, as in many Austen novels, the sisters are plagued by gossipy neighbors and selfish in-laws, but through it all they manage to handle challenges with grace and humor.

Is it any good?

What makes this adaptation so endearing is its loving depiction of the Dashwood family as a high-spirited and supportive clan. Sense and Sensibility shows how women in upper-class Georgian England, though privileged, had relatively few choices in life. The beautiful, humorous movie creates a buzz of excitement around the Dashwood sisters' romantic intrigue. Some of the characters you'll love to hate (the Dashwoods' horrible sister-in-law and gloating Miss Steele), and others you'll absolutely adore (little Margaret Dashwood, the future pirate).

Romantics and anyone with a penchant for Jane Austen will have a ball with this film. For many fans, this a favorite to be watched repeatedly. For them, the movie strikes the same wistful chord as the blockbuster Titanic, and it even ends happily!

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why "costume dramas," such as Sense and Sensibility, are popular. Did you enjoy seeing how people once lived, dressed, and interacted? Do you think all people living in Georgian England enjoyed such clothes, balls, servants, and wealth? Why aren't more films about the far more numerous common people of the time? This also may be a good time for parents to introduce Austen's books to their tweens and teens.

  • What do you see as the challenges of adapting a Jane Austen novel into a film?

  • How are the values of the time conveyed in this movie, and how are they similar to and different from contemporary values, in terms of love, money, and family?

  • How do the characters in Sense and Sensibility demonstrate empathy and integrity? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love romance

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate