Jane Austen fans unite! Or actually, maybe don’t. Netflix’s original film, Persuasion, starring Dakota Johnson, Cosmo Jarvis, and Henry Golding, is a period drama based on Austen’s novel of the same name but beware because it is heavily modernized. So if you’re hoping for an accurate, faithful adaptation of the novel, you might want to stay away. Although I am an English major, unfortunately, I’m not familiar with the source material (but I do hope I get the chance to read it sometime soon!). Therefore, I will not be basing my review off of how accurately (or inaccurately I should say) the film follows the book; this review will be purely based on my reaction and thoughts to watching this movie for the first time.

Anne, played by Dakota Johnson

In thinking about what I wanted to say about this movie, my mind immediately went to: god, all the talking directly to the camera was really weird. Yup, Anne (played by Johnson), is the only character to break the fourth wall in this movie. I guess it worked in some scenarios, but my problem with this is they did it way too much – every couple seconds Anne would glance over or make conversation with the camera. Everything in moderation guys.

Speaking of the characters, Anne was an overall likable character. She’s a modern woman with an intelligent mind during an age of old fashioned thinking, so she’s definitely a little more opinionated and outspoken. While I did find her a bit whiny at times, her struggle with love and marriage was relatable enough that I could look past that. I do have to commend Johnson for her comedic timing though because she carried the humour in this film.

Anne reunited with Frederick

Frederick on the other hand, played by Cosmo Jarvis, was a lot more difficult to fall in love with. He was rude and stubborn when we first met him in the movie, but what annoyed me was he failed to become anything more than that. In fact, he remained uncharismatic and unexpressive throughout the whole film. How am I supposed to root for the couple to get back together when even I don’t find the main suitor attractive?!

The film has a runtime of 1h 49m which isn’t all that long, but I did feel the movie dragged on a little longer than necessary. I particularly found the middle bit to be a little boring – they spent far too long trying to define Anne and Frederick’s relationship to the audience (are they enemies? friends?). Meanwhile, the ending was unsatisfactory as hell. Yes, the couple are reunited, but it was so rushed and somehow resolved so smoothly and easily that it left me wondering why they were separated to begin with.

Anne with her maid

The plot itself was alright but very predictable (as are most period romance dramas). I would go as far as to say attempting to modernize the classic novel backfired – there was a little too much going on which resulted in too little focus on perfecting the characters and their relationships. Yes, I do want to read the novel now, but it’s more so because I want to see what the movie was supposed to be. With that being said, I’m giving Persuasion a 5/10. While it is charming and will do the job for any period piece lover, the execution was just not there. For all you hardcore Jane Austen fans, take my advice and just stick to the classic Pride and Prejudice (2005) film for now.