LBSW Film Review – Sense and Sensibility

Sense & Sensibility Film Review

Our film club was not only designed to bring together the team here at London Book and Screen Week through our shared love of book-to-film adaptations but also connect us with our wider online film buff community. This time we watched Ang Lee’s 1995 adaptation of Sense and Sensibility.

Without further ado, it’s time to take a seat and get hopelessly lost in Jane Austen’s world of historical romance.

If you’re in search of a tearjerker of a movie that takes you through the emotional works before ending wholesomely, and if you’re also partial to a period romance, the ever-eloquent Jane Austen and have a soft spot for bonnets, then there’s every reason to watch the 1995 Sense and Sensibility adaptation. It is, quite simply, a charming, enjoyable watch. 

Premiered in early 1996, what we particularly love about this film is the script, the structure and the framing of it. Reportedly, Emma Thompson spent five years wrestling with the script and adapting Austen’s first novel, and the balance of wit with poignancy is enough to have you on the edge of your sofa engaging emphatically in the romantic dilemmas.

This Jane Austen classic tells the story of the Dashwood sisters, who are thrown into sudden destitution following the death of their father. Money and social position are fundamental in Regency England, and the Dashwood family are thrown into hardship after their half-brother inherits their father’s estate and gives his sisters barely enough to survive on. As a result, the three sisters and their mother (Gemma Jones) move to a small country cottage.

Love, though, inevitably follows, and the focus of this story is around the two older sisters: Elinor, the pragmatic and sensible one, and Marianne, the emotionally feverish and headstrong one. Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet play the two respective sisters who, through a series of events, are thrown into the torrents of their own separate love stories.  

During the length of the film three men come in and out of the Dashwood’s cottage. Elinor Dashwood aches for the shy but kind Edward Ferrars (Hugh Grant), Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman) plays the chivalrous neighbour who is instantly smitten with Marianne, and the dashing Willoughby (Greg Wise) saves Marianne causing her to fall, quite literally, in love. It is also worth mentioning here that Willoughby enters gallantly on horseback (cue swooning).

While arguably predictive, we never had any doubt that true love would supersede in the end.  Thompson, though, did an incredible job weaving comedy into the narrative, creating moments of fun, hilarity and relatability. While Emma Thompson’s award-winning screenplay did add in scenes and cut out portions of the book, her years of working on the script payed off as she gave the film substance while successfully catering to a modern audience.

The 1995 Sense and Sensibility adaptation is, in our opinion, a one-off. It would be hard to capture the winning recipe again; the combination of the script with Ang Lee’s direction makes this film an adaptation at its best.

An easy watch for your next romantic night in, this film stirs one’s emotions up leaving you with both sense and sensibility.

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