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Laramie Movie Scope:
Sense and Sensibility

A first-class Austen adaptation

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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March 26, 1996 -- ``Sense and Sensibility'' one of the most critically-acclaimed films of 1995, finally rolled into Laramie and we got to see what all the fuss was about. The fuss was well-deserved. This is a great film from top to bottom. A classic film based on a classic book by Jane Austen.

Emma Thompson, who stars in the film, also wrote the screenplay. She won an Oscar for her writing work. My wife, who has practically memorized all of Jane Austen's books, said the screenplay was true to the book in most respects and most of the dialogue was lifted from the book verbatim.

Thompson, who plays Elinor Dashwood, anchors the film as the selfless Dashwood daughter with the sense. She does a wonderful job in the role, while Kate Winslet shines in the more showy role as Marianne Dashwood, the one with all that romantic passion (the somewhat archaic meaning of sensibility).

The Dashwood women become poverty stricken when the head of the family dies and English law dictates that the lion's share of the estate goes to his spineless son. The son, manipulated by his wife, fails to keep his promise to his father to take care of his mother and sisters. They have to go begging for a place to stay.

Even though they are poor, the sisters manage to find some opportunity for romance and a series of interesting romantic triangles develop. Even though the 18th century English reserve is far from the norm today, the film is still emotionally powerful, even here in jaded 20th century America.

The supposedly powerful love story in ``Leaving Las Vegas'' pales in comparison to the understated passion in ``Sense and Sensibility.''

A host of fine performances support the great screenplay, photography and editing of the film. Alan Rickman, who usually plays the heavy, does a great job with the sympathetic role of the longsuffering and honorable Col. Brandon. Hugh Grant is good, but seems miscast as Edward Ferrars, who was a stronger character in the book (I'm told). Those with sharp eyes and ears might recognize Robert Hardy of ``All Creatures Great and Small'' in the role of Sir John Middleton. Elizabeth Spriggs, who played Mrs. Jennings, also turns in a sparkling performance in the film.

Director Ang Lee (``Eat, Drink, Man, Woman'' and ``The Wedding Banquet'') does another fine directing job. The costumes, sets and scenery are also first-class. This film rates an A.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)