Tropic Sprockets / Sense and Sensibility

By Ian Brockway

Ang Lee delivers a colorful and faithful adaptation of Jane Austen “Sense and Sensibility”. [For showtimes of this 1995 revival and of the related Jane Austen novel, Pride and Prejudice, check]

It is rich and as gorgeously executed as an Asian tapestry. It exudes an adept knowledge of color theory. Visually, it is excellently balanced. Narratively, it has more tumbles and twists upon the heart than Casanova with a stomach virus. 

Due to a harsh twist of fate, the Dashwoods have to move from their palatial home to more modest surroundings. Elinor (Emma Thompson) is the head of the family. She is smitten by a soporific man of idle ways Edward (Hugh Grant).

Marianne (Kate Winslet) is a romantic. When she falls and sprains her ankle during inclement weather, she is aided by the Byronic Willoughby (Greg Wise) who carries the exact same volume of Shakespeare’s Sonnets that Marianne herself worships. There is an instantaneous attraction.

Then Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman) appears: a man whose heart has been crushed by the sorrow of star-crossed love. He is sensitive and kind but also melancholic. Marianne decides to put her romantic energy toward Willoughby. Willoughby evolves as a womanizer in the way of the worst of any libertine, loving covertly in pursuit of money.

Marianne becomes sick with a pernicious infection. The Dashwood home is in an uproar.

While the film impresses upon one that most every man (sans one) is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, duplicitous and full of sideways smiles, the action rolls along with festive humor and looks askance. Emma Thompson is excellent and Kate Winslet delivers a perfect role as a lovestruck heroine with Pre-Raphaelite glamour and wistfulness. The magic, mystery and pain of love exudes from her cinematic pores. 

Like “Pride & Prejudice” this film is full of melodrama, but everything is level and measured. “Pride & Prejudice” had a campish quality with Keira Knightley’s longing looks. But in this film, the torment feels more grounded, given Winslet’s intense glare. And just as in the aforementioned film, one sees pigs and canines buttressing against romantic folly, caprice, pettiness and the pushes and pulls of a capitalist heart. Both “Sense and Sensibility” and “Pride & Prejudice” make torturous twins in the ways of the heart with a mother’s spirit steadfast and always at the ready.

Write Ian at [email protected]

[livemarket market_name="KONK Life LiveMarket" limit=3 category=“” show_signup=0 show_more=0]