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5 movies to discover and rediscover Jane Austen

Starting with the new Netflix film starring Dakota Johnson

5 movies to discover and rediscover Jane Austen Starting with the new Netflix film starring Dakota Johnson

Cyclically, the world of cinema draws on Jane Austen's output, bringing an adaptation of her novels to the screen. The latest to suffer this fate is Persuasion, which will arrive in the coming weeks on Netflix starring Dakota Johnson. Before that, however, there have been many others, which in an attempt to give the originals a novel twist have inconvenienced famous actresses, evocative locations, and even designer costumes and zombies. The reason for so much attention? There is something utterly compelling and modern about the work of the English writer, an ante litteram figure of feminism capable of creating strong, independent, witty and ironic female heroines, women who stubbornly fight for their convictions without forgetting romance. Some of the ingredients that made audiences fall in love with Bridgerton. If you are ready to recreate the same magic and dive into the Regency era of love affairs and interesting female characters, we suggest 5 movies to discover Jane Austen. The First? Obviously the new Persuasion.

Persuasion (2022)

"Don't let anyone tell you how to live or who to love." Says Dakota Johnson in the trailer for Persuasion, a Netflix-produced adaptation of the last novel Austen completed before her death in 1817. A few words and a few images that make us believe that, the one streaming next July 15, will be our new comfort movie. Directed by acclaimed stage director Carrie Cracknell, Johnson stars as Anne Elliott, a noble and enterprising 27-year-old who must choose between a never-to-be-forgotten love (Cosmo Jarvis) and a handsome new suitor (Henry Golding). The plot promises to offer us "a modern, witty approach" to Austin's book: "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 let get 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." 


Emma (2020)

Pop soundtrack, video clip rhythm, saturated shots, pastel colors, costumes as eye-catching as a tray of macaroons, and a very apt leading lady. Autumn de Wilde directs Anya Taylor-Joy in a version of Emma that in some ways recalls Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette. Add a fresh, modern mood, a bit of misunderstanding, gossip, and wild matchmaking and you have all the ingredients for an evening that will increase your desire to surround yourself with beauty and irony. The main character played by the elfin Taylor-Joy is the beautiful, intelligent, cheerful and wealthy Emma Woodhouse. At almost 21, the girl has no intention of falling in love and getting married, preferring to help those around her find their soul mates, but when George Knightley (Johnny Flynn) comes to town, things change.


Love & Friendship (2016)

The Lady Susan Vernon of Love & Friendship is a charming and ambitious lady of the late 1800s who, in this 2016 film has the face of Kate Beckinsale. Widowed and without a livelihood, she moves with her teenage daughter into the country mansion of her husband's family with a single goal for which she is willing to do anything and manipulate anyone who might be of use to her: to lift her own fortunes. Vernon is a deus ex machina of affections and destinies, cynical and unscrupulous, a true villain in corsets and fluffy skirts. 

A fun fact: the film is directed by Whit Stillman, who for the occasion reunited Kate Beckinsale and Chloë Sevigny, already part of the cast in his cult The Last Days of Disco.


Pride and Prejudice (2005)

The striking views of the Kent countryside, Joe Wright's fine direction, and Kiera Knightley's graceful beauty are just some of the elements that make this film version of Pride and Prejudice a true classic of early 2000s romance. Thus, whenever we find ourselves in the company of the five Bennet sisters, raised by their mother with the sole goal in life of finding husbands, we recognize ourselves in Lizzie and fall a little in love with the gruff Darcy. Ready for yet another re-watch?


Clueless (1995) 

If period dramas are not your thing, there is another way to get close to Jane Austin's work: watch Clueless. The 1995 cult hit starring Alicia Silverstone in the still-copyrighted role of Cher Horowitz is a nineties adaptation of Emma. Forget the English countryside and Regency clothes, the heroine of this film lives in luxurious Beverly Hills and wears miniskirts, Alaïa minidresses and check outfits that she chooses directly from her rotating closet. A little cult that each time reveals us one of its secret sides.