Didn’t like Persuasion? Here are 5 modern takes on Jane Austen classics to watch this weekend
If you’re in need of some movie inspiration to see you through the weekend, we’ve rounded up some favourites that you may not realise are Jane Austen reimaginings.
Dakota Johnson’s fourth-wall-breaking reimagining of Jane Austen’s 1817 novel Persuasion certainly was… something. Placing the character of Anne Elliot within the context of a messy Millennial woman, with Fleabag-esque sidebars and zeitgeisty dialogue that just doesn’t fit with the era, the film has been thoroughly critiqued since its Netflix release last month.
I’ll be honest here: Despite its flaws, I actually thoroughly enjoyed it. Though some have branded it something of a travesty, or a painful parody of a timeless classic, it had a self-awareness to it that appealed to me.
However, I am all too aware that I am most definitely in the minority here. So, if you watched and hated Persuasion, or have been studiously avoiding it entirely, here are some modern takes on Jane Austen works that are well worth watching, and rewatching.
Did you know that Clueless is a fresh take on Jane Austen’s Emma? Bringing the story of the 1815 novel to 1990s Beverly Hills, notes and letters are replaced with mobiles and payphones, and one crucial scene is almost an exact mirroring from the book. In Emma the eponymous character paints a portrait of Harriet to entice Mr. Elton’s fancy, while in this beloved teen classic, Cher’s snap of Tai ends up hanging in Elton’s locker. The whole movie takes on a new feel when you watch it with new eyes.
A modern spin on Pride and Prejudice, 2022 rom-com Fire Island sets the pace from the get-go, opening with a quote from Austen: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife … Well, no offense to my girl Jane, but that sounds like some hetero nonsense.” The plot remains parallel to the original story throughout, while giving it a long overdue shake up.
Bridget Jones’s Diary
Another reinterpretation of Jane Austen’s 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice, Bridget Jones’s Diary revolves around that infamous love triangle between her charismatic boss Daniel Cleaver, and the prideful lawyer, Mark Darcy. A will they, won’t they that manages to span three whole films, in the end this iteration of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy eventually end up living happily ever after.
The Jane Austen Book Club
Okay, so while this may not exactly be an official adaptation of one of Jane Austen’s books, it is actually many reimaginings in one beautifully packaged film. As the name suggests, the story follows a group of people as they revisit the collective works of Jane Austen, and each character’s plotline draws parallels with the novel they’re reading. Starring Emily Blunt, Hugh Dancy, and Kathy Baker, this is one for a cosy Sunday afternoon.
A 2007 biographical romantic drama starring Anne Hathaway as our leading lady, Becoming Jane tells the story of Austen herself. Having always aspired to be a novelist, the film shows us a woman battling with her parents’ expectations to marry a wealthy man, and in the process, falling for a charming but poor Irish man, played by James McEvoy.