Amanda Root, Ciaran Hinds, Corin Redgrave, Sophie Thompson
Some years back, a publisher of paperback romances began an imprint called Second Chance at Love, featuring once-bruised heroines giving love another go. Aside from its superior prose and fewer throbbing body parts, Jane Austen's final novel, Persuasion, first published in 1818, would fit right in.
Her heroine, the well-born Anne Elliot (Root), had at age 19 broken her engagement to a young naval officer (Hinds) after being persuaded by family and friends that he had "nothing but himself to recommend him." Now, eight years later, he has returned a successful and wealthy man. How Anne persuades herself, and eventually him, that she was wrong the first time around and that they should rendezvous with Cupid again is at the heart of Austen's story.
As witty as Austen's better-known novels, Persuasion is also a more mature, reflective work. Director Roger Michell and writer Nick Dear have adapted the book into an amusing and touching, if modest (the rooms all look underfurnished) film. As Anne, Root convincingly changes from wallflower to radiant rose, while Redgrave (brother of Vanessa and Lynn) and Thompson wring the full comic potential out of their roles as, respectively, Anne's vain father and hypochondriacal sister.
If you've never read Jane Austen, this movie is a swell introduction. If you're already a fan, it's like visiting old friends and discovering that they are still as good company as you remembered. (PG)