By Sneha Jaiswal (Twitter | Instagram) || Click here for an audio review

Confession time – I have never seen a film with Dakota Johnson as the lead, not until the 2022 Netflix film ‘Persuasion’. So, as a viewer, I didn’t have any prejudice or preconceived notions against the actor and was quite taken in by her charm as Anne Elliot in ‘Persuasion’.

Directed by Carrie Cracknell, the film is based on the novel of the same name by Jane Austen, but the makers take a LOT of creative liberties with the story, so much so that perhaps fans who feel very strongly about the book might be terribly disappointed with this frivolous re-telling. Fortunately for me, I don’t feel too passionately about Austen’s work and thought the flick was beautifully shot, breezily told, but predictably closed with a trite stale ending. In short – it’s not a bad one time watch for an old-fashioned summer romance set in a distant past.

Plot overview: Anne Elliot is the only sane middle-child of an affluent family, with two very vain sisters and an even vainer father. She’s been nursing a heartbreak for over eight years, ever since she was ‘persuaded’ into turning down the man she loved, because he wasn’t rich enough. But when the two meet again under different circumstances, Anne begins to rethink her life decisions, which are further complicated by the arrival of another attractive eligible man on the scene.

The story is narrated by Dakota’s Anne, who constantly breaks the fourth wall, looking to the viewer to voice what’s on her mind. Like what Deadpool does in Marvel movies. Dakota employs the plot device with a lot of easy sass, baring her mind and critiquing those around… basically being a casual bitch with an aching heart. Cosmo Jarvis plays her ex-lover Mr Wentworth, who looks tired, scruffy and done with life; not the dashing romantic hero one would hope for. He has zero charm and no screen presence. Henry Golding plays the other possible suitor, and is a lot more interesting than Wentworth, but has a surprisingly small cameo.

It’s a movie that exists in its own bubble, where Anne drinks a lot of wine, has her hair down all the time, goes for a swim in the sea when she feels like… nothing she does is typical of a lady of her stature from the 1800s. And then there’s the Bridgerton bubble (yes, the Netflix show) – it’s a world where African-American folks were part of British aristocracy and married White people as if they were all part of a big happy country devoid of racial divides. So you also have the very Asian-looking Henry Golding as part of the cast, who is supposedly related to the Elliot family.

It’s best not to wonder about historical inaccuracies and treat things like fan-fiction if you want to enjoy this film. The contrasting character of Anne amid her conceited family makes for an amusing watch, especially against her younger whiny little sister Mary (Mia McKenna-Bruce). The lavish colorful sets, the blue waters and the fancy sprawling houses where the story unfolds is all very engaging. Too bad Dakota has no chemistry with Cosmo Jarvis. Also, considering how the makers shook everything up, the climax was at odds with the rest of the tale. Was really hoping for something more different at the end too.

It’s a 6/10 from me.

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