Dakota Johnson stars in a new Netflix original film premiering next month, but the movie is already getting some backlash. It is an adaptation of Jane Austen’s final novel, Persuasion – a lauded depiction of life, love, loss and the grueling march of time. For some fans, the trailer for the new film adaptation is just a little too chipper.
Persuasion was written in 1816 and published in 1817 – the year that Austen passed away. As many fans have pointed out, this was a very difficult time in Austen’s life for him, and the book reflects that. The trailer, on the other hand, gives off the tone of a romantic comedy with more levity than fans were expecting. Many felt that this was more than a bad adaptation, it was a symptom of poor literacy and of a cultural disinterest in difficult topics.
Persuasion was adapted for the screen by writers Alice Victoria Winslow and Ronald Bass, and was directed by Carrie Cracknell. In addition to Johnson it stars Cosmo Jarvis, Henry Golding, Richard E. Grant, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Suki Waterhouse, Ben Bailey, Izuka Hoyle, Mia McKenna-Bruce, Nia Towle, Edward Bluemel, Lydia Rose Bewley and Yolanda Kettle.
The movie is due out on Netflix on Friday, July 15, but as you’ll see below many people have already promised not to watch it. Here’s a look at the responses to Netflix’s Persuasion adaptation so far.
I just don’t understand why we’re doing this fourth wall breaking take with Persuasion when Northanger Abbey is right there and severely under-adapted compared to other Austen works?
— nel (dad) (god?) (@nelscorner) June 14, 2022
you should have to defend your screenplay to a doctoral board before they let you film persuasion https://t.co/wxU22pBEH8
– miquella defend (@zenyanna) June 14, 2022
I think writers should write whatever they want, but whoever wrote this needs to be sent to a penal colony for life. pic.twitter.com/Q17sAsLEpJ
— Brandon (@blgtylr) June 14, 2022
Finally, many critics said they would have been fine with a period piece featuring all the quirks of this trailer if it had not been called Persuasion. Many felt that these experimental ideas should have been reserved for something less beloved.
Raise your hand if you feel personally victimized by the new Persuasion trailer pic.twitter.com/8Y3ZTqoc68
— Nirali 🧡🤍💗 (@firewordsparklr) June 14, 2022
The Bridgertonfication of Persuasion is a loss for sad girls everywhere.
— fran (@galacticidiots) June 15, 2022
Many critics had a laugh at themselves and the rest of social media for the speed and ferocity of their response. They urged each other to be thoughtful in their criticism, as many want to see romance writing in general taken more seriously.
‘A Modern Approach’
So what you are just saying is that because director explained rewriting of main character and most famous lines completely as “a modern approach” people are not entitled to have and share their opinions? huh… pic.twitter.com/kfGe8nuwnf
— Wilde Renata (@milhopan) June 14, 2022
As some pointed out, Cracknell said from the beginning that this was intended to be a “modern take” on Persuasion. However, critics felt like such an approach should still have retained the tones and themes of the source material.
I’ll do the same, hopefully the trailer is a poor representation of the movie.
And YES, the Ciaran Hinds version is incredible. Love the realism in it.
— BenRandall (@BenRandall) June 21, 2022
The tone shift from the book worries me a little, not sure about 4th wall break (Anne is really introverted so maybe it will be a plus to convey emotions but it seems way too light hearted) Persuasion is more nostalgic, mature… I ‘ll try it but not optimistic.
— Kamash_Bookworm (@BookwormKamash) June 14, 2022
Many critics admitted that they still plan on watching this movie and they are hopeful that the trailer didn’t do it justice.
And it is! ‘Exes’ rang out to me like she had said ‘bitcoin’ totally out of place and a far cry from the beautiful description Austen had written.
— J’Wren (@JenneyD) June 14, 2022
Before long, users were putting quotes from the trailer side by side with passages from Austen’s novel. Many were horrified by the difference.
Netflix can fuck right off with this Bridgertonification of Persuasion. This is not supposed to be a fun, romantic romp–it’s about the tragedy of succumbing to societal pressures instead of doing what’s best for yourself. Get Dakota Johnson out of my Jane Austen, please.
— Abolish the Police (Sting, we’re cool) (@420AttyChicago) June 14, 2022
Looks like they’ve removed the most interesting part of Jane Austin stories: the social settings of the time, and the women forced to navigate in them. This appears to be a modern teen drama with 18th century garb. No thanks.
— BenRandall (@BenRandall) June 14, 2022
Several users blamed this misread of Austen’s novel on recent period pieces like Bridgerton which are intentionally not historically accurate. They felt that a work like this one should have been adapted more faithfully to keep its vital messages intact.
Jane Austen wrote Persuasion at the end of her life, when she was ailing and living in poverty, with the type of life she had not expected or planned.
She, her mother, and sister lost everything when Jane’s father died.
— Cate Eland (@RomancingNope) June 14, 2022
We don’t like women who are complicated or who have made mistakes to have happy endings. So we have to smooth out her complications from her and blame others for her mistakes from her –a thing Anne Elliot never did–in order to make her worthy of filming her own love story.
— Cate Eland (@RomancingNope) June 14, 2022
A viral Twitter thread by Cate Eland explained the situation Austen was in at the time Persuasion was written. It also helped shed light on why the tone shift in this adaptation left many fans of Austen and the romance genre in general feeling sleighted.