Sense and Sensibility is the story of the Dashwood females. The mother and her three daughters, Elinor, Marianna, and Margaret. The girl's father has just died and his son from his first marriage is coming to take over the family home with his awful wife. The Dashwood sisters and their mother are forced to move into a country cottage.
Elinor and Marianne face love and deceit and situations make the girls choose between sensibility or despair.
This is the third version of S+S that I have seen; the other two being the 1995 movie with Emma Thompson and the 1981 mini-series version.
My favorite of the three has to be the 1995 one because the characters are so vibrant and I love Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon (my favorite Jane Austin hero along with Mr. Knightley). The 1981 version is very good if you want to stick close to the book, but it is also a tad bit boring and dry.
I found that this 2008 version is a pleasant mixture of the two!
The storyline stayed pretty close to book, but also had the fun characters and in-jokes from the 1995 version.
Another thing I enjoyed about this version is that they added such scenes as the duel between Colonel Brandon and Willoughby and Willoughby showing Marianne around Allanham. Margaret, the youngest Dashwood sister, also had a more prominent role than she did in the book (in the 1981 version she was cut completely out of the show!). Also, this version had all of the characters from the book (in the 1995 movie we find that Sir John Middleton's wife and four children and Lucy Steele's sister, among other characters, are cut from the movie - this version included them all).
The dialogue was more or less like the book.
I loved how they kept the scenes from the book that were excluded from the 1995 version; such as, dinner with Mrs. Ferras and Willoughby's apology scene.
However, there were certain scenes which were NOT in the book that I wish the makers of this show had left out.... The very beginning scene show the seduction of Willoughby to Colonel Brandon's ward. It is about 30 seconds to a minute long and I just fast fore warded through it (I had been forewarned about it). This scene was absolutely not necessary to the plot line, as Colonel Brandon explains, more or less, what happens later on in the show. I wish that this scene had been left out but since it is in this version, fast fore ward through it.
Also, Willoughby and Marianne kiss while exploring Allanham and I think that could have been left out because it was not in the book. If I am going to be VERY picky, I would have left out the kiss at the very end between Elinor and Edward.... But I won't be picky this time. =)
Other scenes were changed slightly from the book and I believe one or two minor scenes of everyone at the Middleton's were left out... But they weren't important so that's alright. The biggest change, I think, was that Marianne didn't choose to study for a few years, like she did in the book and other versions. Colonel Brandon invites her to come to his home whenever she likes to practice his piano forte and read his books, which she does. They become engaged before Elinor and Robert. In the book it is the other way around, and it takes a few years.
Now onto the characters! I want this post to be mostly about the characters and how I compare them to the other versions and what I thought of them.
First, Elinor Dashwood played by Hattie Morahan.
I think that Ms. Morahan played Elinor exceptionally. She and Elinor really seemed to be one and the same. Emma Thompson from the '95 version is still my favorite... But Ms. Morahan LOOKS like Elinor, which is something I like. While Emma Thompson plays Elinor very well, she seems a bit old for the part. This Elinor was young and lovely.
Elinor had a great relationship with her sisters and held her composure very well during those four agonizing months that she had to keep Lucy Steele and Edward Ferras (the man she loves) engagement secret. She was very happy and comforting towards Marianne and had only good things to say about Mr. Ferras, even after his engagement became public.
Marianne Dashwood was played by Charity Wakefield.
I thought that Marianne was played very well also. You could see that she was enraptured by Willoughby the moment she lay eyes on him, as she was in the book. Her grief was played wonderfully when Willoughby left her but she also recovered very well. All in all, she was very much the Marianne from the book and I really don't have many complaints. Except maybe that she would wear her hair up more... I didn't think Jane Austin women were supposed to wear their hair down a lot and this Marianna does. I don't know, maybe I am mistaken. If I am, tell me. =)
Willoughby was played by Dominic Cooper.
Willoughby was very much like his book counterpart as well. The only problem is that he looks evil. From the very beginning he looks like he is going to do something wrong. Not because of the way he acts but simply because of his facial features. He just looks evil!
I do think Willoughby was acted well, though.
Edward Ferras was played by Dan Stevens.
I was so happy to see him! I know Dan Stevens from Downton Abbey and was pleased to see him another period drama! I think he has the face for it.
Anyway, Edward was very good. I liked this one better than the 1995 version. The 1995 version was, well, TOO awkward. Edward is supposed to awkward but not that awkward... He's not a dofus.
While the 1995 version was too awkward, this one wasn't awkward enough. Maybe it was because he didn't have very much screen time (Edward really isn't in the book or movie(s) very often....). Anyway, this Edward seemed a bit too refined but he was better than the too-awkward Edward. Plus I like Dan Stevens and he had a cool coat so Edward was good.
Colonel Brandon was played by David Morrissey.
When Colonel Brandon wasn't looked like the above picture, he was shooting daggers out of his eyes at Willoughby:
My dad walked in right at the above scene and commented, "If looks could kill...." I couldn't agree more.
Colonel Brandon was acted pretty good. He seemed to switch between total melancholy to great happiness to I'm-gonna-kill-Willoughby very quickly but subtly.
I like Alan Rickman's Brandon much better, but this one was great to. The character is just so pure with such good intentions it is hard to dislike him (although I must admit, the 1981 version was horrid). This Bradon seemed very super heroish to me. And I loved his red jacket.
Over all he was pretty good although I kind of wished he and the actor who played Mr. John Dashwood (Elinor and Marianne's half brother) had switched roles....
Mr. John Dashwood was played by.... drum roll.... Mycroft! *ahem* Excuse me, by Mark Gatiss!
He was soooo weird with long orange hair. Yes, Mark Gatiss does have reddish orange hair in real life... but it's not that long!
I thought that he played John Dashwood very well and I loved all his expressions - seriously, Mark Gatiss has some of the best facial expressions ever. He's up there with Daniel Jackson, Mr. Darcy, and Mr. Knightley.
Mrs. John Dashwood and son. The son was funny to watch. He was cute. The mother was absolutely detestable. She made no effort to hide her dislike of the Dashwoods and was commandeering to her husband. In the book she was more subtle of her feelings towards the Dashwoods. I think that this one was trying too hard to be dislike able.
Sir John Middleton and family. As I said, I loved to see the Middleton family even if they didn't have a huge part in the movie and didn't say a word. Sir John had a smaller part than I expected and wasn't quite so jolly as in the book and 1995 version. He was alright - I found him kind of creepy.
The Miss Steeles (Anne on the left, Lucy on the right). They had very small parts but were played well. I loved Anne Steele. She was really funny and it was great to see her in this version. She was left out of the 1995 version. I thought they were well played.
Mrs. Dashwood was kind of just there. She didn't have that big a part and didn't think she was overly emotional. Still, she made a good mother and was well played.
Mrs. Jennings wasn't as jolly as she was in the books and 1995 version but she was alright, I suppose.
Finally, Margaret. I loved her. She was played very very well and was about the right age too! She had a similar personality to the 1995 version and spent a lot of time running around yelling, "Willoughby's here! Colonel Brandon is here! Robert is here!" But she was fun to watch and her interaction with her sisters was great.
Over all this version was very very good! I would watch it again and would recommend it to any Jane Austin, period drama, or Sense and Sensibility fan.
Live long and prosper.