The Netflix Persuasion trailer just dropped. Here are my thoughts...

Four woman in regency dresses staring out of a window.
The long-awaited Persuasion trailer has dropped and as an Austen fan I had to give you my thoughts... And, yep I have a lotttt of thoughts. But before we get on to the review, let's talk a little about Persuasion a.k.a one of the greatest romances all time.

They say it's the book that you appreciate the most as you get older and it's just so true. P&P and Emma are the ones that usually pull you in at a young age (I mean hello Mr Darcy) but the story of Anne Elliot is a much more wistful tale of longing and regret. 

Now, if you've never read the book here's the TL;DR version of the plot.

It follows Anne Elliot who as a young woman gets happily engaged to Frederick Wentworth but is persuaded by friends and family to break it off in favour of a greater match. Fast forward seven years and she's 27, unmarried and lost all hope of being happy with someone again. Enter Captain Wentworth, now rich and wealthy from the war (an ideal suitor) and still single. However after Anne's rejection, neither of them know how to say that they still love each other. You can guess how this one might turn out... 

A tweet by @jennipeg, it reads, "This is a famous passage from Persuasion, and Netflix has turned it into, 'Now we're worse than exes. We're friends'. Whoever wrote this deserves jail". The attached image of the tweet reads, 'There could have never been two hearts so open, no tastes so similar, no feelings so in unison, no countenances so beloved. Now they were as strangers; nay, worse than strangers, for they could never become acquainted. It was a perpetual estrangement.'

The biggest sin

The worst part of the trailer? The "Now, we're worse than exes. We're friends" line. WHY? As you can see from the below, the original writing is so poignant and beautiful. Sure write a new line but why completely change the meaning? The whole point is that they're not friends. Their relationship exists in a kind of no man's land where they feel like they never can be. Part of me thinks they put that in the trailer for all the controversy because honestly... how can you do that?

"There could have never been two hearts so open, no tastes so similar, no feelings so in unison, no countenances so beloved. Now they were as strangers; nay, worse than strangers, for they could never become acquainted. It was a perpetual estrangement."

Dakota Johnson as Anne Elliot dressed in a regency dress holding a rabbit.


Lots of people have also been talking about the 'Fleabagification' of the film with Dakota (as Anne Elliot) monologuing directly to the viewer. This is actually something I don't mind too much as I think it suits the story quite well as there's so much internal longing going on underneath the surface. After all, when it comes to Austen adaptations, there's definitely wiggle room to switch things up a bit. I mean just look at Clueless and how iconic that Emma adaptation was. That said, they've definitely shaken too much up so I can see why this has also annoyed people.

Dakota Johnson stands and looks into the camera in a dark regency dress.

Anne Elliot (or should we say Elizabeth Bennet/Emma?!)

Now the thing that worries me the most about the film is that it feels like they've completely erased Anne Elliot as a character. Judging by the trailer they've made her into some kind of Lizzie/Emma hybrid. But the thing is she's not at all like either of those characters. For one thing she's 27 which isn't old obviously, *cries in 26 years old* but she's much older than them. She's a woman that's given up on her own wants, feels angry at the decisions she's had to make and is much more of a wallflower – not the flirty woman we've seen in the trailer. I wish they'd appreciated her character more but I guess we'll have to wait and see if there's more seriousness in the film than the comic trailer suggests.

Dakota Johnson and Henry Golding dressed in regency attire, sitting next to each other.

The story behind Persuasion

I read a really poignant thread on the back story of Jane Austen writing Persuasion so wanted to share it here. It also gives some insight into the mood of the book. 

Jane Austen wrote Persuasion at the end of her life, when she was ailing and living in poverty, with the type of life she had not expected or planned.

She, her mother, and sister lost everything when Jane's father died.

"They were left penniless, the girls with no dowries to secure the marriages they had counted on. For several years they were functionally homeless, couch surfing with friends and relatives for a few months at a time, ultimately dependent on Jane's brothers' largesse.


Knowing all this, consider what Austen's feelings must have been as she wrote Persuasion, in her 40s, ailing, living with a brother and reliant on her brothers to ensure she was able to bring in a meagre income through publishing.

Anne Elliot is a character full of regrets, grief, and self-reproach. She is angry with her family, her few friends, and above all herself, mostly because she has ended up in a life of dependent spinsterhood where her only role is taking care of others who don't value her."

Read the full thread here. Trust me it's worth it.

A portrait of Richard E. Grant in regency attire.

What I liked (a very short list tbh)

- Richard E. Grant. Always happy to see him in anything and I think this is a great cast choice as Anne's father.
- I'm really happy to see Henry Golding in this as he suits period dramas so well. BUT I wish he played Captain Wentworth and not Mr. Elliot. But hey I guess you can't have everything.

Ok we've reached the end – *deep breathes in Austen fangirl*. The film drops on July 15th but till then I might have to read Persuasion all over again. See you when it drops, V x