Why the internet is upset over the Netflix Jane Austen film adaptation
ADRIAN FLORIDO, HOST:
The trailer for Netflix's new adaptation of Jane Austen's "Persuasion" dropped this week, and it's going viral in a bad way. "Persuasion" is a brooding, painfully sincere novel, and some fans aren't happy that the movie has been injected with snark.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "PERSUASION")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) Now we're worse than exes. We're friends.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Frederick.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) Perfect.
FLORIDO: Kathryn VanArendonk is a Jane Austen devotee and a TV and film critic at Vulture.
KATHRYN VANARENDONK: "Persuasion" is an incredibly sad, personal, introspective, prickly novel, and that trailer just really does not feel like the "Persuasion" that I think fans of that novel know and love.
FLORIDO: The book follows Anne Elliot as she rekindles her romance with Captain Frederick Wentworth years after her family persuaded her to break off their engagement. Jane Austen novels are known for their nosy narrators who get inside characters' heads and tell the reader things only the characters themselves could know. In "Persuasion" the movie, Elliot, played by Dakota Johnson, does that by talking directly to the camera herself.
VANARENDONK: So there's this performative aspect to it that is very, very different than it would ever have been in Austen's time, and most importantly, is wildly different than the way Austen writes Anne Elliot as a character.
FLORIDO: VanArendonk says the trailer's style feels a lot like the "Fleabag" or "Bridgerton" series. But she says its creators wanted to make another hit in that vein, they could have gone with a different Jane Austen classic.
VANARENDONK: "Northanger Abbey" is dying for a constantly turn to the audience and comment because it is a novel that is about commenting on other novels, and "Persuasion" just feels like such a poor fit for that particular tone.
FLORIDO: This online battle may seem petty or even annoying, but then VanArendonk says this overzealous discourse is an essential part of Austen fandom.
VANARENDONK: Janeites (ph) have been getting up on soapboxes for as long as Jane Austen has been published. And so in that way, there is, in fact, something overwhelmingly comforting and familiar about being like, Jane Austen? I have feelings.
FLORIDO: And this is just for the trailer. Imagine the Twitter frenzy when the movie actually comes out next month. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.