New to Netflix Summer 2022: Persuasion


Illustration by Sophia Evans

Vasilia Yordanova

As I scrolled through Netflix’s new releases on a stifling summer night, a movie based on Jane Austen’s final novel quickly grabbed my attention. I have read and enjoyed several of Austen’s works and relished in modern reimaginings of them like “Clueless,” as well as faithful period pieces like “Pride and Prejudice,” so “Persuasion” seemed like a fitting film for me to watch.

Although I had heard many comments criticizing this new film, especially its script, I was still excited to start watching. However, I soon found out the negativity was well-deserved. I knew the basic plot from having read the back cover of my copy of “Persuasion,” — heroine Anne Elliot realizes she still loves the man she previously rejected due to family pressure, only to find he is interested in one of her friends instead — but I was still hopelessly confused within the first five minutes. During the beginning of the film, the plot moved along at lightning speed, which felt uncomfortable compared to reading Austen’s detail-oriented storytelling or watching most media based on her writing. Much of the film felt rushed, but at other points, the action was so slow it became dull.

I did appreciate the scenic shots throughout the film, as well as the traditional English manors and lovely Regency-era dresses. Unfortunately, the beauty of the early 1800’s setting of “Persuasion” was not enough to redeem the film.

The main issue with “Persuasion” is that the directors and producers did not fully commit to creating a modern adaptation, nor to accurately retelling Austen’s acclaimed novel. The modern slang scattered throughout the film was completely incompatible with the time period of the film, for example, someone being “a 10,” practicing “self-care” and having “a crush.” This felt neither quirky nor relatable, but rather awkward and forced. There are plenty of ways to make a period piece modern — just look at Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette” — but having your actors speak with a social media vocabulary is not a good one.

Netflix has produced much worse romantic comedies than “Persuasion”— remember “Tall Girl” or “Love Hard”? — but it was still disappointing to see how they handled Austen’s novel. Yet, watching “Persuasion” sparked my curiosity about the original book, so I suppose something good has come from the movie.