Fans have complained that Netflix turned one of Austen’s “saddest” novels into a “sassy” romance
Persuasion – Jane Austen’s last novel before her death – is widely regarded as her most mature work, showing a refinement in literary ability befitting a woman of almost 40 years of age.
Anne Elliot breaks off her engagement to Frederick Wentworth and contemplates marriage to her cousin in the novel, which is also widely regarded as one of Austen’s best and saddest.
Which might explain why admirers of the author have reacted negatively to the first trailer for a new Netflix adaptation of the classic starring Dakota Johnson.
Here’s everything you need to know.
What is “Convince” about?
The story follows Anne Elliot, a 27-year-old English woman whose family decides to rent out their property to an admiral and his wife to save on expenses and pay off debts.
“Living on the brink of bankruptcy with her snooty family, Anne Elliot is a maladjusted woman with modern sensibilities,” reads Netflix’s official synopsis for the film.
Navy Captain Frederick Wentworth, the woman’s brother, was engaged to Anne in 1806, but the engagement was broken when Anne was “persuaded” by friends and family to break off their relationship.
“When Frederick Wentworth – the dashing one she let escape – rushes back into her life, Anne must choose between putting the past behind her and following her heart when it comes to second chances.”
Why did the trailer cause controversy?
The film’s trailer has sparked debate on Twitter, with notable writers, critics and Austen lovers reacting to the bizarrely upbeat clip.
Described as a “funny modern” take on the classic love story, Persuasion seems to continue the Bridgerton trend of cheeky love adaptations.
In the teaser, Johnson addresses the audience directly and breaks the fourth wall to tell the audience, “Don’t let anyone tell you how to live. Or who to love.”
The trailer has also been compared unfavorably to Dickenson and Enola Holmes, another Netflix production in which the protagonist speaks directly to the audience.
Kathryn Van Arendonk, a television critic for New York magazine, commented on the modern approach: “I really hate the step of making cheeky direct speeches for 19th-century adaptations, especially ones like Persuasion, which are supposed to be terribly sad.”
One line of dialogue in particular stood out among the other changes to the source material that have irritated fans.
In Persuasion, Austen writes: “There could never have been two hearts so open, no tastes so alike, no feelings so in tune, no faces so loved. Now they were like strangers; no, worse than strangers, because they could never know each other. It was an eternal alienation.”
An abridged and modified version of the quote also appears in the trailer: “Now we’re worse than exes. We are friends.”
“Whoever writes this deserves jail,” wrote one Twitter user.
Who is in the cast?
Next to Dakota Johnson, Cosmo Jarvis (Lady Macbeth) Henry Goldling (Crazy Rich Asians), Richard E Grant (Can you ever forgive me?) and Nikki Amuka bird (Jupiter Ascending) star in the 1817 retelling of the novel.
Carrie Cracknell is directing the Netflix release, her feature film debut after a theater career, adapted for the screen by Ron Bass and Alice Victoria Winslow.
When can I watch it?
The film is scheduled to premiere on Netflix on July 15, 2022.
It will also get a limited theatrical release a week earlier, starting July 8th.