I was unmoved by ‘Sense and Sensibility,’ which concluded last night on Masterpiece.
I kept thinking of Emma Thompson’s film adaptation, which captures the comedy of Jane Austen’s novel in a way that seems totally lacking in this version, despite Andrew Davies’ master touch. The emphasis is on the twin disappointments of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, as they fall in love with and are deceived by Edward Ferrars and Willoughby. The two men seem to vanish from mind when they are not in the scene, and to be interchangeable when they do appear.
Perhaps it has something to do with the location of the Dashwood cottage on the edge of the pounding sea, which gives the sisters’ residence there a sort of dramatic intensity that is more reminiscent of the ‘Poldark’ novels than Jane Austen’s country settings. Except for a brief and critical visit to Lyme in ‘Persuasion,’ her novels are not notable for stormy seas.
I miss the entertaining quirks and biting edge of the minor characters – Mrs. Dashwood’s mirror-image reinforcement of Marianne’s romanticism, Mr. John Dashwood and his lady’s unremitting smallness, Sir John and Lady Middleton’s astounding incompatibility, the obvious commonness of Lucy Steele, the silliness of Lady Palmer, who can be forgiven for everything but her laugh, and the obnoxiousness of Robert Ferrars, Lucy’s perfect mate.
I wonder how many viewers remember and connect the brief scene with which part one begins (an unnamed young man seduces an unnamed young woman) with the duel in part two and the brief scene in which Colonel Brandon pledges to take care of his niece and Willoughby’s illegitimate baby.
I wonder if anyone cares.