Emma Thompson and Sense and Sensibility

In one of those magazine article zeitgeist things, the Guardian and the Atlantic both have articles on Emma Thompson and the 1996 Sense and Sensibility, for which she wrote the screenplay (winning on Oscar) and played Elinor Dashwood, embodying sense and emotional reticence. The Guardian article doesn’t seem to know what to make of a woman who is both comic and doesn’t really give a damn about what people think. The Atlantic is more meditative on how Thompson’s script and Lee’s film provides a space for a more emotive form of masculinity, one that is becoming the more dominant form of masculinity today. I’d agree when it comes to Alan Rickman’s Colonel Brandon, who is closer to Austen’s text than Hugh Grant’s Edward Ferrars, mostly because he occupies less of the movie than he does the novel. (I like Grant’s painfully shy performance, which emphasizes why he is tempermantally unsuited to the public life of a politician, which is what his mother desires and emphasizes why his empathetic tempermant fits both a calling to the church and Elinor, who needs someone to read her emotions.) I now want to reread Thompson’s diary for the film, which she published along with the screenplay. It’s a fascinating look into her process and anxieties. She was painfully aware of being 35 and playing a 19 year old. 


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