‘Late Night’ Shines with Duo Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling

“I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”

                                                                                              – W. B. Yeats*

These two lines from Yeats’s poem appear at the beginning of the movie, but with hilarious effect. Director Nisha Ganatra and screenwriter actor Mindy Kaling do not waste time in setting the mood and pace of what is to come. Molly Patel (Kaling), a woman of Indian descent walking briskly on the streets of NYC meets her destiny as a full bag of garbage is thrown at her face while she recites these poetic lines to herself, mustering up courage and confidence as she heads to the interview for her dream job.

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She’s hired, but not based on her merits. Molly is now a writer for the TV talk show host, the iconic Katherine Newbury, whose late night show has been around for nearly three decades. The reason that Molly gets it? ‘Diversity hire’, for Molly has no background in writing comedy except cracking jokes over the PA in the chemical plant where she works as a quality control personnel. One writer in the team groans, “I wish I was a woman of colour so I could get any job I want with no qualifications.” With that line, we know that both Ganatra and Kaling, two ‘women of colour’, are poised to deal with a relevant workplace issue head-on.

Molly’s new work environment might just be as toxic as the chemicals in her previous employment because now she has to prove herself fit for the job, to her colleagues and her boss. The seven others in the writing team are all white male, while two other who used to be there have just been fired by Katherine, one for asking for a raise and the other talking on the phone with his girlfriend. The remaining seven know how to keep their job: colour within the lines and tread as carefully as possible so not to step on their boss’s ego.

Katherine Newbury is masterfully played by Emma Thompson. She is spot-on in portraying the sharp-tongued, hard-nosed TV anchor who is too blinded by her own light to realize her star rating has been falling like a meteoroid, and that a younger, cocky Daniel Tennant (Ike Barinholtz) is too eager to take over. The studio decision to terminate her show comes as a devastating blow to Katherine.

Scrambling to rescue her place, Katherine Newbury meets her writers for the first time. And in that writing room, the two women, Katherine the star TV anchor clashes with the novice, ex-chemical plant quality controller Molly, who points out––with good intention––Katherine’s lack of relevance in contemporary social media-driven society. Interestingly, as the two women from totally different demographic backgrounds come to interact with each other, the older one begins to feel like she’s looking at her former, younger self. And with that, Kaling brings in yet another critical societal issue: remaining relevant in the battle against ageism.

Thompson is brilliant in delivering depth and not merely a two-dimensional, Cruella type caricature of a boss as in The Devil Wears Prada, although she has plenty of opportunities to do just that. Thanks to Kaling’s subplot bringing in John Lithgow as Katherine’s Parkinson’s afflicted husband Walter, we get to know some of Katherine’s backstory. Although his character isn’t fully developed, Lithgow’s sporadic appearances act as a conduit through which we get to see a hidden facet inside the seemingly tough outer shell of Katherine’s. Kudos to Kaling in not focusing on her own story in the movie but letting Thompson shine in the limelight, and the veteran actor delivers with versatility and energy, probably rescuing  some overtly melodramatic sequences.

Who better to write the script than Mindy Kaling herself. The movie is like a biopic of her own TV career, well, not exactly in the details but definitely the trajectory. Before this her first full feature screenplay, Kaling, the daughter of immigrant parents from India, was first hired as a writer for the pilot of a new TV series called The Office (2005-2013). Exactly, that award winning series which later lasted for nine seasons. Kaling also appeared as the character Kelly Kapoor and became producer as well. After The Office, she went on to create her own series The Mindy Project with six seasons. She is Dr. Mindy Lahiri, the character inspired by Kaling’s mother who was an obstetrician/gynecologist, and the namesake, the author Jhumpa Lahiri. In the meantime, Kaling authored two books, collections of essays sharing candidly her private self and growing-up a child of immigrant parents. Kaling is an iconoclast in her own right.

Vancouver born director Nisha Ganatra is also of Indian descent. I applaud both women’s excellent efforts in bringing this Sundance (2019) acclaimed feature into mainstream entertainment via Amazon Studio with a reportedly $13 million price tag. Late Night is more glam, clever, and lively than Amazon’s The Big Sick two years back at $12 million. It’s my hope that one day, the word ‘diversity’ will not be necessary to describe contributions from ‘minorities’ or ‘non-whites’ as we all belong to the mainstream.


~ ~ ~ Ripples


*From the poem ‘He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven’




Related Review:

‘The Big Sick’: A Real Life Romantic Comedy



Austen Inspired Acceptance Speech

2011 is the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s Sense And Sensibility, her first published novel.  And since we are in the midst of Awards Season, inundated (or soon to be) with speeches, I’d like to join these two occasions and celebrate both Austen and fine speeches.

The 1995 film adaptation of Sense and Sensibility had received numerous awards, most notably accolades for Emma Thompson’s screenplay, which had garnered the Golden Globe, BAFTA, and ultimately, the Oscar. I have posted this before a few years ago, but think it is high time we read or reread Austen’s wonderful novel and be entertained again by the very talented Emma Thompson.

Also, I’m sure you would love to read a transcript of it, one of the most unique awards acceptance speeches of some time. Since the event occurred some fifteen years ago, I have taken the liberty to annotate (in parentheses) and format it in a way to enhance your reading pleasure.

Here it is, Emma Thompson’s Acceptance Speech at the 53rd Golden Globe, 1996, for Best Adapted Screenplay, Sense And Sensibility:

“I can’t thank you enough, Hollywood Foreign Press, for honouring me in this capacity.  I don’t wish to burden you with my debts, which are heavy and numerous, but I think that everybody involved in the making of this film knows that we owe all our pride and all our joy to the genius of Jane Austen.  And, it occurred to me to wonder how she would react to an evening like this.  This is what I came up with:

Four A.M.   Having just returned from an evening at the Golden Spheres, which despite the inconveniences of heat, noise and overcrowding, was not without its pleasures.  Thankfully, there were no dogs and no children.  The gowns were middling.  There was a good deal of shouting and behaviour verging on the profligate, however, people were very free with their compliments and I made several new acquaintances.

  • Miss Lindsay Doran (producer), of Mirage, wherever that might be, who is largely responsible for my presence here, an enchanting companion about whom too much good cannot be said.
  • Mr. Ang Lee (director), of foreign extraction, who most unexpectedly appeared to understand me better than I understand myself.
  • Mr. James Schamus (co-produceer), a copiously erudite gentleman, and
  • Miss Kate Winslet (role of Marianne Dashwood) , beautiful in both countenance and spirit.
  • Mr. Pat Doyle, a composer and a Scot, who displayed the kind of wild behaviour one has learnt to expect from that race.
  • Mr. Mark Canton, an energetic person with a ready smile who, as I understand it, owes me a vast deal of money.
  • Miss Lisa Henson — a lovely girl, and
  • Mr. Gareth Wigan — a lovely boy.

I attempted to converse with Mr. Sydney Pollack (executive producer), but his charms and wisdom are so generally pleasing that it proved impossible to get within ten feet of him.  The room was full of interesting activity until eleven P.M. when it emptied rather suddenly.  The lateness of the hour is due therefore not to the dance, but to the waiting, in a long line for a horseless carriage of unconscionable size. The modern world has clearly done nothing for transport.

P.S. Managed to avoid the hoyden Emily Tomkins who has purloined my creation and added things of her own.  Nefarious creature.

With gratitude and apologies to Miss Austen, thank you.”


Transcript of Emma Thompson’s speech taken from the book The Sense And Sensibility Screenplay & Diaries by Emma Thompson, published by Newmarket, 2007.

Note here on the back of the cover page these words:


“I should like to acknowledge the profoundest debt for my having developed any sense of humour to Jane Austen, Monty Python and The Magic Roundabout


An Education (2009)


UPDATE Feb. 21:  Carey Mulligan just won Best Actress at the BAFTA (British Academy of Films and Television Arts) Awards. CLICK HERE to read more. 

UPDATE Feb. 2, 2010 OSCAR NOMINATIONS: An Education receives a nomination for Best Picture in the coming 82nd Academy Awards.  Carey Mulligan gets a nod in the Best Actress category, and Nick Hornby gets a nom for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Update Jan. 23, 2010:  Carey Mulligan is a Best Actress nominee and a presenter at the Screen Actors Guild Award tonight.

Update Dec. 16:  Carey Mulligan has been nominated for a Golden Globe Best Actress Award.

Now is the time of the year that’s most gratifying. The awards season is coming up in just a few months. So this is when possible contenders are released, albeit some with just limited screening, and they aren’t likely to be your Hollywood blockbusters that might stay on for a while. That’s why I opted for ‘An Education’ over the weekend. ‘A Christmas Carol’ can wait.

An Education is the little British film that comes with high acclaim. The coming-of-age story is based on the memoir by British journalist Lynn Barber.  It first appeared in Granta magazine, later published by Penguin. The screenplay is written by Nick Hornby, the popular writer who gave us About A Boy, Fever Pitch, and High Fidelity, all turned into movies.

An Education won the Audience and Cinematography Awards at Sundance earlier this year.  And it might well propel Carey Mulligan to an Oscar nomination, which she so deserves. She has been noted as the young, modern Audrey Hepburn. But my impression of her is one fresh acting talent, sweet and extremely amiable. I’ve enjoyed her role in the BBC TV drama Bleak House as Ada Carstone. She’s Kitty Bennet in the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice, and has a small role in the memorable When Did You Last See Your Father (2007). An Education is her first major role in a feature film.

Carey Mulligan plays 16 year-old Jenny convincingly. Jenny is a top high school student aiming for Oxford as she graduates in a few months, an aspiration directed by her protective yet gullible father (Alfred Molina). Oxford is certainly within reach. Jenny is smart, talented, and self-assured. She has all the potentials needed to excel academically and to launch a successful future in life. She loves art, foreign films, classical music, and French pop culture.  The city of her dream is, naturally, Paris.


In the cloister of 1961 Twickenham, a suburb of London, all a girl needs is just a little door opened for her and she’ll leap right out. This door to the adult world and high culture seems to have swung wide open as she meets David (Peter Sarsgaard), a man in his 30’s who offers her a ride home from school in the rain one day. That fateful afternoon marks the beginning of a dramatic turn in her life.

David brings her to art auctions, concerts, fancy restaurants and ultimately, Paris. Yet he remains secretive regarding his work. No, he did not go to Oxford, but he has graduated with flying colors from the University of Life. Thinking her new-found friend is their daughter’s ticket to higher society, Jenny’s parents gladly give their consent to their friendship, but not without some suave persuasion from David.

David also introduces Jenny to his friend and business partner Danny (Dominic Cooper, Mamma Mia!, 2008; Sense and Sensibility 2008) and his girlfriend Helen (Rosamund Pike, Jane Bennet in Pride & Prejudice, 2005)  They are to Jenny the mesmerizing and glamorous circle of adult sophistication.

Cheered on by her peers, Jenny is only frowned upon by two people, her hard-nosed headmistress (effectively played by Emma Thompson) and her English teacher Miss Stubbs (Olivia Williams, who plays Jane Austen in Miss Austen Regrets, 2008), whose devotion to her student turns out to be extremely valuable. And then there’s her school mate Graham (Matthew Beard, When Did You Last See Your Father, 2007) who has a crush on her but is no match in front of towering David.

An Education is a film of revealing. Danish director Lone Scherfig takes her time in telling the story, leading the audience through passages of beautiful cinematography and fine acting, suspenseful scenes and memorable interludes. David does not at all appear to be the nasty predator. And Jenny, on her part, also attempts to test the limit. She’s not vain, but honestly dazzled and bewildered. The consent of her naive parents passes the ball back to her court, she must learn to make choices for herself.

And so the story leads the audience through twists and turns to a gratifying end. After the ordeal, Jenny said: “I feel old, but not very wise.”  It could well be the sign of maturity itself.  There’s no short cut to adulthood after all. Great cast, impressive performance, entertaining story, enjoyable education.

~ ~ ~ 1/2 Ripples


CLICK HERE to read Lynn Barber’s essay in Granta magazine, chronicling the process of writing from memory, and transporting print onto screen.

AFTER you’ve watched the movie, you might like to CLICK HERE to read an excerpt of Lynn Barber’s memoir.  I urge you NOT to read it if you don’t want SPOILERS before watching the movie.

The Merchant Ivory Dialogues

Re-watching The White Countess (2005) has prompted me to savor other Merchant Ivory films .  I love their sumptuous period set design, stunning cinematography and exceptional acting.  Some of them have garnered Oscar accolades, and since become classics, creating a genre of their own.

Long before Bollywood and Slumdog Millionaire, there was Ismail Merchant, born in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India, in 1936.  He later went to New York to further his education, and started making movies in 1960.  On his way to the Cannes Film Festival in 1961 representing the U.S. with his nominated short, he met American director James Ivory.  The two formed a production company that same year, and the rest is history.

Before producer Ismail Merchant passed away in 2005, the Merchant Ivory Productions had created timeless masterpieces, most notably, adaptations from the work of E. M. Forster, Henry James, and Kazuo Ishiguro.  Together with German/Polish screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, they have turned literary satires and portrayal of class-conscious Edwardian and Victorian English society into accessible popular movies, interpreting the humor and wit with a mark of their own.  Ironically, none of the three are English.  Maybe it does take an outsider to see clearly.   A short list of their impressive productions includes  A Room With A View (1985),  Howards End (1992),  The Remains of the Day (1993),  and The Golden Bowl (2000).



But here in this post, I must present to you The Merchant Ivory Dialogues.  Oh that’s not how it’s titled.  But Arti just named it so.  In the 2005 Criterion Merchant Ivory Collection DVD of Howards End (1992, 9 Oscar nominations, 3 wins) I found in the Special Features this amusing interview with producer Ismail Merchant and director James Ivory.  The conversation between the two are so whimsical that they could almost form a comedic duo.




Here are some excerpts:

On the idea of creating Howards End the movie:

 M: Howards End started with Ruth (screenwriter) telling me and I think gave Jim the novel to read.                                     

I: Well hold on. I’d read it.

M:    Oh, You’ve read it.  I see.

I: I’d read it in fact twice.   Ruth always sort of not exactly dangled the book in front of us after A Room with a View and Maurice.  But she saw it  as a really ambitious, and to her would be most, most rewarding project for us and for her.

M: Anyway, it was slow going for me.




On Jim Ivory’s favorite scene

I: For me … from the first time, if I remember anything about it, except this scene where Margaret jumps out of the car when they run over a cat.  Charles Wilcox doesn’t want to go back and a little girl runs into the road and starts crying and Margaret leaps out of the car…

M: We had to go to this incredible preparation, real cat and the artificial cat and the dead cat…

 I: There’s no real cat.

M: And so I said no I don’t want to do it, you know.  But he insisted because it was his favorite scene, and it is not in the film.  So you should listen to the producer first.

 I: That’s all I can really remember about the book the first time I read it was that scene,  which I thought is incredibly dramatic…

M: That’s your favorite scene which is not in the film.

I: Which we shot and cut out of the film. Anyway…




On Forster the Social Critic:

M: Howards End is about the class system, and what Forster said about the inheritance of England. This beautiful house, a metaphor for England,  will be inherited by the lower class. That is what happens here. This beautiful house is inherited by the clerk’s illegitimate son. Well anyway, this is an interpretation of mine.

I: I don’t think Forster had all that great love for the working classes …

M: Not love for the working class but…

I (voice covering M): He had an ideal, which was, people should be able to mingle from whatever their background, whatever their class, they all ought to be able to in a civilized and happy world. And in the good England everyone ought to be able to mix together if only the different kinds and types of people could make a connection. Then it would be for the betterment of all.




On American Funding (or the lack of)

M: Howards End was an ambitious film at that time, eight million dollars, the budget. We could not get eight million dollars from anybody, you know, it’s just not possible because Americans never saw the possibility of this film being successful as they never see anything of consequence or civilized film to be successful. They have blinkers on their eyes, they never see anything beyond, you know, the form …

I (moving about in his seat, almost rolling his eyes): All Americans?

M: All Americans

I (raises his eyebrows just enough to show his disagreement):   All Americans.

M: All American film companies… with the exception… there are some sensible people like Sony Classics, they were at that time with Orion pictures….they were very excited but they only gave us a very small sum of money…of course, their enthusiasm and support were greatly appreciated but we had to raise 85% of the money outside…





On Getting Vanessa Redgrave on Board

I: And then there was the casting of Vanessa Redgrave, who all along, from the very beginning I had wanted in that part. I thought she was the actress to play the first Mrs. Wilcox. And we kept sending her scripts, and this is the way it’s always is with Vanessa… You’re not sure she’s got the script, you’re not quite sure she’s read it, whether she likes it, whether she’ll do it…

M: I’ll tell you the story. Jim’s heart was set on Vanessa, and so was mine. So we sent this script and then we went to tea at Waldorf  Hotel. And so we were sitting there and she said she had four, five months all planned… and the money you offer is not enough. So I said what would you like.  She said if you could double that amount, I would do it. So I said ok, that’s it, you said it, now it’s double your salary. She couldn’t believe it was instantly, spontaneously done, because knowing that we had a small budget and we had to struggle for every penny. This was like giving whatever you want.

I: A very bad precedent.

M: Sorry?

I: A very bad precedent.

M: No it’s not a bad precedent at all. And for her I would do anything, you know. If she said get me the moon, I would get the moon for her. And it’s not possible for people to get the moon, but I would do it.



Ah… the creative process, the self and the collaboration, the art and the business, the part and the whole… just fascinating.


Photos:  James Ivory, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, and Ismail Merchant received BAFTA Fellowship Award (2002)  news.bbc.co.uk;  Emma Thompson and Vanessa Redgrave in Howards End, toutlecine.com

Jane Austen: Sense Or Sensibility?

With PBS Masterpiece Classic broadcsting Sense and Sensibility (2008 ) again on Feb 1 and 8, it’s good time to muse on the question:  Which Austen heroine was Jane herself most like?  You can see the poll on my side bar, and the results so far. 

As you watch Sense and Sensibility once again, look closer at Elinor and Marianne.  Mind you, if you have a chance, watch the 1995 movie too, then you’d appreciate Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet in bringing out the differences between sense and sensibility even more clearly I think.

No doubt, we all like to perceive Jane herself as the very source that had inspired the creation of our all time heroine, Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice, intelligent, witty, self-assured, sharp in her critique of social norms, and brave enough to challenge, and diverge.  She dominates our popular votes here with a 44% lead… so far.

But Anne Elliot of Persuasion is also a popular choice, mature, patient and wise.  The silent lover is a strong second with 23%.


After reading the biographies of Jane, knowing how she had loved the burlesque and to play a part in the family’s performances, how openly she had engaged in activities with her brothers and the student boarders in her home, how she had  written satires while still a youngster, how critical she could be, and above all, upon my reading Claire Tomalin’s incisive analysis of Jane’s relationship with her older sister Cassandra, I tend to lean toward a very unpopular choice. 

I think Jane by nature was more like Marianne Dashwood, passionate, spontaneous, expressive and bold.  It’s Cassandra, like Elinor, who reminded her to rein in her emotions, to keep her skepticism in check, and to help her fit into a world that was not ready for a female like her.  Have you wondered why Cassandra needed to burn so many of Jane’s letters to her after Jane’s death?

Is it sense and sensibility we’re talking about here, or rather nature and nurture? 

No matter.  It’s best that our favorite writer remains an enigma.  But, if you have to choose, thinking back to all the Austen heroines in her six novels, who do you think Jane resembled the most?

Cast your vote and let Janeites decide.

To read my review of Sense and Sensibility (2008, TV), Part 1, Click here.

Click here for Part 2.



Last Chance Harvey (2008)


Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, London, England… attractions enough.  Can anyone ask for more?

… Well, yes…  how about a good plot.

The relatively new director/writer Joel Hopkins must have great confidence in his actors unleashing their charisma in lieu of a substantial plot… well, he’s lucky.  They do.  Despite a slow start, an uneventful and banal storyline reminiscence of past movies, I’ve enjoyed it, mainly because of the actors.  Just watching Hoffman and Thompson strike it up can lighten your day.  Their performance is worth the ticket, especially Hoffman.  Just watching his toast to the bride in the wedding of his daughter is worth the 92 minutes you sit in the theatre.

For their performance, both are nominees in their respective best acting category for a comedy or musical at the recent Golden Globe Awards.

Weddings are popular in recent movies.  Maybe because a wedding is the most sensitive occasion where families, past and present, have to come together, tempted to open old wounds, but also given the chance to mend relationships, or to simply love those for whom you haven’t got time in your life. A hotbed for drama to ensue.

Hoffman here plays Harvey, a divorced jingle writer facing a post mid-life crisis.  Not only is he hanging in a dead-end job, his life is one stale and stagnant bore.   The movie begins as he flies to London England for his daughter’s wedding. The excitement is soon doused by his realizing that the wedding ceremonies have all been planned without him. An embarrassment to his ex-wife Jean (Kathy Baker, The Jane Austen Book Club, 2007) and even to his daughter Susan (the fresh Canadian Liane Balaban, Definitely Maybe, 2008 ), Harvey nevertheless grasps the most critical moment to express his heart-felt endearment for his daughter at the reception.

Other than that self-assertion, and the father-daughter dance which is made possible only because his son-in-law is gracious enough to initiate, Harvey is totally slighted.  While drenched in self-pity, he meets Kate (Thompson).  She too is beginning to, (or has she already?), give up the chance of falling in love.   Kate is self-sufficient though, and probably feels she could fare better on her own, especially without her mother (Eileen Atkins, Evening, 2007) calling her every hour.  But of course, the rest of the story is predictable;  yet you still want to cherish the two great actors hitting it off, to witness Harvey winning Kate over.

Last Chance Harvey is like a stroll in the park.  It’s simple, light, relaxing.  I mean for both the viewers and the actors.  It sure looks like this is one easy job that the two of them can do even in their sleep.

But of course, for me as a viewer, I’d like to see more depth, more characterization, more twists and turns, more laughs.

I suppose it’s alright if you don’t mind coming out of a restaurant half-full… and you did enjoy the dessert.

~ ~ ½ Ripples

Sense and Sensibility (2008 TV): Part 1

Sense and Sensibility 2008

What can I say after watching just half of a movie?  But First Impressions last, and the notion has multi-layered meaning.

First off, I can’t help but compare this Andrew Davis version with the 1995 Emma Thompson’s screenplay.  And secondly, I’m eager to watch Part 2 next week to see how some of my feelings from Part 1 hold out, of course, to also quench my Austenian thirst.  PBS sure has underestimated the patience of Janeites who, I think, would not mind spending three hours to watch the whole movie in one sitting.

The two adaptations play out exactly as the story does.  Emma Thompson’s screenplay is an almost literal and reserved view of the novel, while Andrew Davis’ is an imaginative and free-spirited rendition.  The two versions are very much a parallel image of Elinor versus Marianne, sense contrasted with sensibility, or should I say, sense and sensuality?  The perfect scenario, of course, is a balance of the two.  And last night, while appreciating the fresh angle Davis has led me to look at the novel, I also long for a more literal, more authentic representation.

Davis has taken the liberty to create scenes intended to appeal to (what he thinks is the expectation of) modern day viewers, a much more erotic and sensual rendition than the Austen novel. Not authentic, but I admit, some of those scenes are quite effective. Not that I think Jane Austen needs that kind of help though.

Marrianne and Willoughby

I have particularly enjoyed the set design and cinematography.  The sumptuous Norland Park, the elegant costume, and the picturesque natural scenery, the almost Gothic billowing seaside of the Dashwood new home.  Barton cottage by the cliff?  Again, not authentic, but quite effective.  The howling winds and crashing waves are sharp contrast to the once quiet and comfortable life of Norland Park.  They also signify the turmoils in the hearts of the characters, betraying their calm composure.  There is a beautiful shot when Elinor runs up the windy mountain, the camera follows her wind-swept hair and fluttering dress.  As she stops at the edge of the cliff, looking down onto the rising waves, she opens the book Edward has given her as a parting gift, slowly caressing the words he left in there.  That is one moving scene.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the camera work.  Like an omniscient narrator, it captures not only the macro views, but by its silent pan and close-up shots, reveal the inner emotions and deeper characterization.  The blurry shots of the wind-charm hanging outside the cottage, strung up sea shells Margaret has collected by the craggy shore,  slowly dancing in the quiet breeze, a metaphor for the passing of time, or the changing of scenes…very effective indeed.

This adaptation features a younger cast.  Hattie Morahan as Elinor, Charity Wakefield as Marianne, as well as Dan Stevens and Dominic Cooper as Edward Ferris and Willoughby are much more compatible in age to the story’s requirement than the 1995 movie.  However, I feel the contrast between the sisters are more proficiently acted by Thompson and Winslet….so far in this Part I anyway. The younger cast brings in a fresh perspective, but I miss the maturity and talent in the previous version.  I like Lucy Boynton’s Margaret (Miss Potter, 2006), a very clever performance and lucky girl…she has some of the best lines in the movie.  Another favorite character of mine in just watching this first part is Janet McTeer as Mrs. Dashwood, her performance almost overshadows her daughters.
Janet McTeer as Mrs. Dashwood

David Morrissey’s Colonel Brandon is portrayed as a more lofty and noble character than an emotionally tormented soul, a role Alan Rickman has mastered.  In the present version, Brandon meeting with Willoughby is an obvious reminiscence of a previous Andrew Davis adaptation, yes, the first, chance encounter of Darcy and Wickham in Meryton.  The cold and awkward expression on their faces are brought back here.  Morrissey’s tall and stately stature sharply contrasts with the much shorter, scoundrel-looking Willoughby, obviously contrasting not just a difference in physical appearance but in character. However, this is not what Austen intended.  The Willoughby she has described has all the social charm, height and good looks so to bring young girls under his grasp.  A deceitful character masked by a handsome appearance. Again, not authentic here, but as to effects, it depends on how much an Austen purist you are.  Nonetheless, I feel the Darcy and Wickham allusion is apparent.

Overall, I have enjoyed this first part of the new Sense and Sensibility.  The cinematography and camera work has done a great service to enhance a very elegant adaptation.  I anticipate eagerly to see how my First Impressions will play out in the concluding part coming up next week.

…if only I can just watch it now.

Update: Click here to go directly to my review of Part 2 and Conclusion of Sense and Sensibility (2008).

And… Don’t forget to cast your vote on the sidebar, Which Austen Heroine Was Jane Most Like?


In Praise of Austen: Emma Thompson’s Acceptance Speech

I’ve a video tape of Sense and Sensibility (1995) for a long time.  A few days ago I bought the DVD of the movie, and was pleasantly surprised to see the ‘Extra Features’ includes Emma Thompson’s acceptance speech at her Golden Globe win for Best Screenplay.

And for all these years I’ve missed this one!

That the Taiwanese director Ang Lee would take on such a project is evidence of the universal appeal of Austen’s work.  But it is Emma Thompson who stands out as the well-deserved winner of both an Oscar and a Golden Globe for her writing of the adapted screenplay of Sense and Sensibility (1995).

Here’s Emma Thompson’s acceptance speech at the 1996 Golden Globes Awards ceremony.  It is an ingenious and imaginary rendition of what Jane Austen would have written about that night.  A speech of true Austenian style, a must-see for all Janeites and Emma Thompson fans.  Of course, those who own the DVD must have seen it numerous times, I’m just twelve years too late: