I do not know why but sometimes when I watch a periodic film my thoughts are: were people really like this? The short version is yes, although maybe it is not as bad but I did not live back then so who knows. Anyway, this 1995 periodic drama based on the beloved Jane Austin novel stayed as true as it could to the 1811 novel, which helped that Emma Thompson (who was convinced to be the lead) wrote the script. It is still regarded as one of the best adaptions of Austin’s work and I would never argue with that. Spoilers ahead as usual. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.
Just before he dies Mr. Dashwood (Tom Wilkinson) asks his son from his first marriage John Dashwood (James Fleet) to take care and provide for his second family: his wife Mrs. Dashwood (Gemma Jones) and their three daughters: Elinor (Thompson, nominated for her part), Marianne (Kate Winslet, nominated for her part) and Margaret (Emilie Francois) as they will not inherit anything after Mr. Dashwood’s death. However John’s manipulative wife Fanny (Harriet Walter) convinces her husband to break his word to his father and not help his half sisters. They almost immediately move into the Dashwood home forcing the girls to find a new home. Fanny has her brother Edward Ferrars (Hugh Grant) move in as well. Edward and Elinor form a friendship and it seems that something more could have happened. However Fanny informs Mrs. Dashwood that Edward will be disinherited if he does not marry someone important. Having had enough Mrs. Dashwood takes her daughters and moves into a cottage provided by her cousin Sir John Middleton (Robert Hardy) and his mother in-law the ever scheming and energetic Mrs. Jennings (Elizabeth Spriggs). The Dashwood ladies also meet Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman), a longtime friend of Sir John who falls for Marianne the moment he sees her; however she does not reciprocate his feelings as he is too old. After a walk in the ran has Marianne taking a tumble she meets John Willoughby (Greg Wise) a very charming gentleman she quickly falls for and makes no attempt to hide it, much to Colonel Brandon’s chagrin (in more ways than one). Mrs. Jennings invites her daughter Charlotte (Imelda Staunton), son-in-law Mr. Palmer (Hugh Laurie) and cousin Lucy Steele (Imogen Stubbs) to visit where Lucy confides to Elinor her secret relationship with Edward, much to Elinor’s heartbreak but agrees to stay quiet. The elder Dashwood sisters soon have to find a way to handle their heartbreaks. About as far as I should go without giving away the rest of the movie.
I was amazed when I watched the film for the first time at not only how well it was written, but the acting. Emma Thompson is incredible as Elinor and she wrote a wonderful script; which did not surprise me when I read she won the Oscar for her screenplay (so far the only person to win Oscars for acting and writing) This was not Kate Winslet’s first film, however she gained a lot more attention with her role as the woman with her heart on her sleeve Marianne. Hugh Grant was amazing as Edward, I know a lot of Jane Austin fans thought he was “too handsome” for the part (which I almost laugh at but I have not read the book yet so what do I know), but apparently Thompson had Grant in mind when she was writing the script. Rickman is adorable as Col. Brandon, one of his most memorable roles outside the Harry Potter films. I loved the rest of the cast as well, with a special shout out to Elizabeth Spriggs as Mrs. Jennings, a character I almost wish would stop meddling, but it is so entertaining. I would call Sense and Sensibility a must see if you love periodic, drama or romantic films or any of the actors in this movies. Even if you are not this is still a very cute movie and a great adaption of Jane Austin’s work.