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Disappointed With “Persuasion”? Here Are 5 Jane Austen’s On-Screen Adaptations You Should Watch

This article was written by Giulia Santos Pereira Lozano

On July 15, Netflix premiered the newest adaptation of “Persuasion”, a Jane Austen novel. Published in 1817, the story revolves around Anne Elliot, who, at 19, was engaged and in love (a rare privilege at that time) with Frederick Wentworth, a bright and ambitious officer. However, persuaded by a friend, the young woman puts an end to the relationship due to Wentworth’s lack of social status. Eight years later, the situation changes, and the Elliots have to rent their house to overcome financial difficulties. The new resident’s brother is no one less than… exactly: him. Both still single and unattached, Anne and Frederick have a second chance at love.

Considered Austen’s most maturely written work, the story has already been told through television, theater, and even radio. However, “Persuasion (2022)” is its first film adaptation, giving Netflix the complicated mission to shape this classic to the big screen.

According to the critics, the mission… failed. Receiving a 37% on Rotten Tomatoes, the film disappointed a mass of fans when trying to “update” the novel, giving the protagonist (played by Dakota Johnson) the ability to break the fourth wall – which many called out as a failed attempt to recreate Fleabag’s success – and some poorly placed anachronisms, like Anne saying “We’re worse than exes. We’re friends”  to describe her relationship with Frederick.

Fortunately, Jane Austen left a rich collection of novels that were successfully adapted. So, if you didn’t enjoy “Persuasion (2022)” but want to dive into the “Austenverse”, here are five on-screen adaptations of different books from this beloved author.

Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Celebrating its 17th anniversary this September, “Pride and Prejudice”, directed by Joe Wright, carries the mix of humor, drama, and romance that only Austen could serve.

In the English countryside, Elizabeth Bennet (Keira Knightley) lives with her parents and four sisters. Being the second eldest daughter, she feels constant pressure to find a husband, even though she doesn’t think about that very often. However, the arrival of wealthy bachelor Mr. Bingley (Simon Woods) and his best friend Mr. Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen) brings some change in Lizzie’s life. 

Sense and Sensibility (1995)

With the death of their father, Elinor Dashwoodand (Emma Thompson) and her younger sister Marianne (Kate Winslet) have to deal with sudden destitution. Their half-brother inherited almost the whole fortune and decides to not support the two women, who now have to find financial security through marriage. However, while the eldest faces the situation rationally, Marianne can’t let go of her sensibility and emotions when choosing a husband.

Written by Emma Thompson and starring Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman as the sister’s suitors, “Sense and Sensibility (1995)” is a spoonful of romance for those who love a historical drama.

Emma (2020)

“Handsome, clever, and rich”, Emma Woodhouse (Anya Tylor-Joy) spends her days matchmaking and intruding in other people’s love life. Enchanting everyone around her, the only one who doesn’t seem to fall for the girl’s charm is Mr. Knightley (Johnny Flynn), a local landowner and friends with her father.

After her governess marries and moves from the Woodhouse residence, Emma decides to find a romantic pair for Harriet Smith (Mia Goth), but soon finds herself immersed in a pool of misunderstandings she can’t seem to solve.

Clueless (1995)

If you found Emma’s story familiar, it may be because “Clueless”, the classic from the 1990s is an adaptation of the same novel! Everything is making sense now, right?

In the fabulous Beverly Hills, Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) is the most popular girl in the school, always getting anyone to do what she wants. Engaged in doing good deeds, she and her friend Dionne (Stacey Dash) try to matchmake two professors, who end up dating each other. After their success, Cher decides to go beyond and is committed to doing a complete makeover for Tai Fraser (Brittany Murphy), the new girl at school. Along the way, Cher realizes that maybe she was being clueless about things right in front of her.

Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

Speaking of modern adaptations, the story of Lizzie Bennet and Mr. Darcy inspired Helen Fielding to write “Bridget Jones’s Diary” in 1996. Five years later, the novel was adapted to the screen and became one of the most popular romcoms ever seen.

Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger) seems to struggle at everything she does. One day, she decides to start a diary to focus on aspects she wants to change in her life. Things don’t go exactly as planned, especially when two very different men start to catch (and fight for) her attention. The result, however, is a hilarious and priceless report.

Although this list brings some of the most popular ones, there are plenty of other adaptations of Austen’s novels out there! And of a range of very different genres and formats (“Pride & Prejudice & Zombies” is a real thing, you can check). So if you were disappointed with “Persuasion (2022)”, don’t give up on Jane Austen’s adaptations. Some of them are worth it and, perhaps, you can find your next favorite story in one of them.

Juliana Sanches

Casper Libero '25

A journalism student with a passion for books and words since a young age. I adore creating art and am very interested in culture, entertainment and music :)
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