Jane Austen fans will delight in the sumptuous production design and first-rate acting in the 2007 Masterpiece Theatre
version of Persuasion
. Sally Hawkins is controlled and moving as Anne Elliot, the quietly heartbroken but sensible heroine who was "persuaded" (read: forced) to turn away her true love but still carries an unseen torch for him. Hawkins's performance is genteel yet steely, and the quiet strength of the entire production. Hawkins looks alternately quietly lovely and sadly pinched--as one might expect the long frustrated Anne to look.
Other highlights include a post-Buffy Anthony Head, as Anne's clueless, blustery father, Sir Walter. Head gets to turn on his deft comic talent here in ways most American audiences have not yet seen him; he's clearly enjoying himself immensely, blustering about "my shrubberies" and other trivial affairs. The cinematography is lush (several breathtaking tracking shots are used, especially early on), as are the period costumes. The production was filmed exclusively on location, and the reality of the sets enforces the story.
Some fans may prefer the 1995 Amanda Root version, for the casting of Ciaran Hinds as Capt. Wentworth, but this later effort is a worthy entry in the Austen film oeuvre--and Rupert Penry-Jones is a dreamboat in his own right. As the wistful Anne says, on behalf of all women, "We do not forget you, so soon as you forget us." --A.T. Hurley