Persuasion | Jane Austen and the 4th wall

This new Persuasionfrom the latest book published by Jane Austen in the early 19th century, is it a faithful adaptation? Not exactly. However, in its beginnings it has a bit of that contagious cleverness of The favorite and borrows a lot (too much) from the style of the groundbreaking series Fleabag, especially because of the indirect narrative of the literary work. But it is not difficult to be entertained with “Austenian” dialogues, even out of context, as his spirit of analysis of human nature and its relationships never grows old. On the contrary: it matures.

However, focused on being modern and inclusive, Persuasion is carried by the virtues of the universe of Austen while it is anchored by the differences of the comics imagined by the classic author. If we were to draw a parallel with our literature, it is as if the protagonist of Dom Casmurro was reincarnated as a digital influencer and there were all these social issues (which are a bore) to address. Besides knowing if Capitu betrayed him… I mean, that’s not even his business anymore, right?

What is most debatable, however, is not the reinterpretation of Austenwho has been the victim of more bizarre film adaptations (I’m looking at you, Pride, Prejudice and Zombies!). The controversy is how subtle the small narrative and ethnic differences take hold in this epic novel. The retouching goes unnoticed by the average audience who would watch it anyway, so there’s no point in making a period story more palatable to young audiences. On the other hand, for those who are interested, follow and in a way even root for adaptations by the writer, the film only reveals how much she was in fact virtuous with words, not thanks to this film adaptation, but in spite of it.

Its lack of harmony with the original work serves to enhance the dialogues and characters of the book, while pausteurizing a film produced at the expense of acquired copyrights. Unnecessary, by the way. Fans would earn more from re-reading the book and streaming viewers would earn more from (more) a pop dramedy.

On the other hand, this gives us a chance to observe some curious contemporary aspects. For example, plagiarism of Fleabagthe short and thought-provoking comedy series created and written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge which investigates the ins and outs of a protagonist looking all the time at the viewer analyzing her own universe through this fourth wall break. Fleabag it is obviously not original at all, but it is the strongest sign of the decade in aspects of narrative turn in audiovisual fiction. It is a funny and dramatic series while properly navigating the possibilities of language, especially indirect speech.

Persuasion uses this tool of communication to the viewer too much, to the point of being confused with a simple convenient plagiarism. This is because the film itself does not need this artifice and does not profit from using it. However Dakota Johnson has beautiful eyes, the feature doesn’t gain depth just because we see her looking at us all the time, nor is there any metalinguistic joke other than the resource being used lazily and without belonging. It becomes a distraction. Even readers who will recognize the indirect speech brought under the audiovisual format must realize that it is a deception.

Another curious and contemporary aspect is the fashion of unconventional relationships. The third act was created to become a farce full of coincidences and mismatches planned in the final montage of the couples. The message couldn’t be more political and more bland. If there was any desire on the part of the spectator to watch modern deconstructions anchored in politicized discourse, it would not be in a Jane Austen that he should look for.


“Persuasion” (USA, 2022), written by Ron Bass, Alice Victoria Winslow and Jane Austendirected by Carrie Cracknellwith Dakota Johnson, Cosmo Jarvis and Richard E. Grant.


Movie Trailer – Persuasion

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