It’s safe to assume we are in a Jane Austen-inspired renaissance era. An era for saucy period dramas. No wonder shows like The Gilded Age and Bridgerton are such fan favorites. This genre is so popular that it even became this year’s Met Gala theme. To add to that list of Regency-era projects is the upcoming and highly anticipated Netflix cinematic adaptation of Jane Austen’s final novel Persuasion, starring People’s Choice Award winner Dakota Johnson.
Last month, Netflix released a set of first-look photos featuring Dakota Johnson as the film’s star, Anne Elliot. She is the middle child of an arrogant aristocrat who was pushed to end her whirlwind engagement with an attractive naval officer. Several years pass, and Anne is still unmarried. By this time, her family is financially ruined, and the handsome naval officer with whom she broke off her engagement is a wealthy and heroic Captain Wentworth. Will Anne be able to rekindle a romance with Captain Wentworth, a man she once rejected? Or will there be another man?
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We have already seen our fair share of highly successful Jane Austen adaptations. From Ang Lee’s Oscar-winning Sense and Sensibility, which starred Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson, to PBS’ take on the unfinished Sanditon manuscript. The interest in Austenian adaptation is clearly not mellowing anytime soon. With Persuasion now on this list, let’s break down everything you need to know about this upcoming Netflix movie.
Persuasion: The Plot
Jane Austen’s Persuasion is often considered one of the author’s more mature works regarding themes and subject matter. This is Austen’s final novel that she completed before she passed away, and it follows an “old maid” as the protagonist. Anne Elliot, in the story, is considered to be an intelligent, attractive, and kind person. However, she’s not considered a beauty among her other sisters. When Anne, at the young age of 19, falls in love with a simple but lowly naval officer, Lady Russell, her mentor, persuades her to break the engagement off, assuming that she can still find a better match. But, eight years pass and the now 27-year-old Anne is still very much single and pining after her Wentworth. The man she once rejected reenters her life as a rich and attractive captain. But he’s none too excited to see Anne again.
In a nutshell, Persuasion is about the pressures put on young people to reject and turn their back on their one true love and even dreams. The story is filled with saucy love triangles, something we’re used to seeing in Jane Austen’s stories. The official synopsis released by Netflix reads:
“Living with her snobby family on the brink of bankruptcy, Anne Elliot is an unconforming woman with modern sensibilities. When Frederick Wentworth — the dashing one she once sent away — crashes back into her life, Anne must choose between putting the past behind her or listening to her heart when it comes to second chances. Adapted from the Jane Austen novel. The film takes a modern, witty approach to a beloved story while still remaining true to Jane Austen’s classic novel.”
Everyone assumed that the movie would be set in the present era, given this synopsis. However, that assumption is incorrect since Netflix released a set of first-look photos that firmly put the film in the Regency period.
Persuasion: The Cast & Crew
As mentioned earlier, Dakota Johnson will play the lead role of 27-year-old Anne Elliot. She’s most famously known for her role as Anastasia Steele in the 50 Shades film series. She recently starred in the drama Our Friend and will soon be seen in The Lost Daughter by Maggie Gyllenhaal and Am I OK? By Stephanie Allynne and Tig Notaro.
The wealthy and attractive naval captain Frederick Wentworth and the love interest of Anne Elliot, who returns to her life, will be played by Cosmo Jarvis. He is best known for his role in the movie Lady Macbeth. He also starred in 2015’s Spooks: The Greater Good.
Joining the main cast as Mr. Elliot, Anne’s cousin, a callous and ruthless man, which is classically Jane Austen. He will be played by Henry Golding. Golding is known most famously for his role in the 2018’s mega-popular Crazy Rich Asians.
The film will also feature names like Richard E. Grant, Suki Waterhouse, Izuka Hoyle, Ben Bailey-Smith, Mia McKenna-Bruce, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Nia Towle, and Edward Bluemel. Their characters have not been disclosed so far. The movie will also star Stewart Scudamore of Risen and Die Another Day, playing Admiral Croft.
The movie is helmed by Broadway director Carrie Cracknell. This will mark Cracknell’s feature debut with this film. Most of her previous work as a director is in British theater. The film’s screenplay is by Alice Victoria Winslow and Ronald Bass. The movie went into production last May. Interestingly, the filming for this movie took place in Bath near Jane Austen’s home, where part of the novel takes place and where she lived herself for almost five years in 1801.
Netflix announced in late April that the film Persuasion would be made available on the streaming platform on July 15, 2022.