Sense and Sensibility (1995) Movie Review: Merging the Mind and the Heart

By: Alex Phuong (A Toast) –

Jane Austen is arguably one of the greatest, if not the greatest, writers of all time.  Her novels have been enjoyed by readers everywhere, and scholars have studied Austen’s social commentary on nineteenth century British society.  It is no surprise, then, that filmmakers would want to adapt Jane Austen’s novels to create cinematic masterpieces as brilliant as the original source material.  Therefore, it is fortunate to say that the 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility is a brilliant adaptation that allows moviegoers to navigate through complex literature, and view life through the eyes of one of history’s greatest writers.

A Toast

The film has an Oscar-winning screenplay by Emma Thompson, and an equally brilliant performance from her as Elinor Dashwood even though she lost the Oscar to Susan Sarandon for Dead Man Walking, as well as a stellar cast that includes Kate Winslet and the late Alan Rickman.  A fun fact about this film is that Hugh Laurie had a small role as Mr. Palmer before his major TV role as the eponymous House nearly a decade later.  Other interesting pieces of trivia include the fact that Ang Lee directed this film even though he never read the original novel by Jane Austen.  This film also allowed Kate Winslet to earn her first Oscar nomination before her iconic performance as Rose in Titanic.

The themes within this film are also relevant to the Twenty-First century even though Jane Austen wrote the original novel nearly two hundred years ago.  People essentially need each other in order to function in a world filled with diversity.  Both the novel and the film also explore the roles that women play, and assert the fact that women are actual people deserving of love and acceptance even though society oftentimes places social barriers upon them.  It is no surprise that the film has a feministic quality to it, because Austen was a woman who advocated for the rights of women.  Sense and Sensibility might not appeal to people who do not enjoy romantic plots, but it is definitely worth watching because it captures the essence of Jane Austen’s work.

Verdict

Sense and Sensibility is visually stunning, and allows audiences to understand what life was like for women during the restrictive times of the nineteenth century.  Even though Elinor and Marianne are complete opposites in terms of their temperaments, they still care for each other while learning to love potential suitors.  Because of that fact, the film explores how gender roles impact the complexities of relationships.  Some critics might label Jane Austen’s work as frivolous love stories, but Austen actually uses romantic plots to reveal great truths about what it means to function in society.  In order words, Sense and Sensibility uses the theme of love to show how there must be a balance between the mind and the heart in order to live a fulfilling life.

Sense and Sensibility (1995) Drinking Game

Take a Drink: whenever Kate Winslet makes references to Shakespeare’s sonnets and classical poetry

Take a Drink: whenever any of the characters discuss love and marriage

Drink a Shot: anytime that any of the characters mention money using the British currency “pounds.”

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