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Rozema's progressive interpretation of Jane Austen's novel finds Fanny Price (O'Connor) as a poor relation who at the age of 12 is "rescued" to begin a life in Mansfield Park, the estate of her aunt's husband. Fanny's beauty and bold intelligence become apparent as she attracts suitors and becomes troubled by the class system and the fact that slavery was the source of much of the family's wealth.
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What I disliked (a lot): Johnny Lee Miller's Edmund comes across as weak and a bit feeble minded as he's manipulated by Mary Crawford. Part of this is textual but unfortunately it makes you wonder why Fanny is so desperately in love with him. Miller is very handsome but suffers from comparison with Alessandro Nivolo's Henry Crawford, who may be morally dissolute but is also dead sexy. Another big problem: the filmmaker flirts with a critique of slavery, including a scene where Fanny finds a book of drawings of whippings and rapes of slaves owned by her uncle. The scene is shocking and yet the subject of slavery barely comes up again in the movie, being dismissed at the end with a voiceover by Fanny explaining her uncle has sold his sugar plantation. It's tremendously icky and doesn't do anything for the story.
Overall, didn't mind wasting some time on this on a boring Sunday but wouldn't watch it again.
Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors. I've read all of her books, some several times. After watching this movie, I decided another read of the book was called for. I can't say I was happy with some of the changes. But neither am I outraged, as some reviewers seem to be. What works in a 19th century novel written by a woman who was relatively sheltered from the world, doesn't mean it works for a modern day American audience. I can only assume that some of the changes were an attempt to make the story more relatable (fail). (Spoiler) The elimination of brother William makes sense. His character is not necessary to the plot. When condensing a book into a movie, this is important. What confused and annoyed me was the ADDITION of so much not found in the book. I am always against an attempt to rewrite history. The entire slavery plot line is ridiculous. Austen had one sentence in the book devoted to the topic. It is a casual mention with absolutely no evidence to support the idea that Tom Bertram quarreled with his father about having slaves on his plantation in Antigua.The only time Fanny asked a question about it, her lack of asking more questions about it (much to her uncle's disappointment) certainly doesn't indicate strong feelings on the subject. The realities of slavery are not something Miss Austen would have knowledge and understanding to write about. I think the screenwriters made a huge mistake inserting this subject into the movie. Assigning modern day sensibilities to characters living in another time and culture is almost always a mistake. But forcing it into a story like Mansfield Park, took it from mistake to insult. I'm insulted on Jane Austen's behalf. It changed the characters, the plot and the whole point of the book! The liberties they took with Fanny's character! She was never fond of Mary Crawford, she would never have accepted Mr.Crawford. And if she had, she would be incapable of saying she changed her mind the next day. She is too well trained in giving trouble to no one.
Fanny Price is a dead bore. She can go on and on about pine trees and shrubbery. She is physically weak. She has no spine. Austen wrote her that way for a reason! Her Goodness is her saving grace. Patient, kind, loyal. These are her assets. The screenwriters didn't get it. And suddenly we are transported into Little Women, where Fanny is replaced by Jo, the would be writer.
I could go on, but I've more than made my point. As a stand-alone movie it could have been more enjoyable, but in the shadow of such a celebrated novel it simply doesn't deliver.
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