Sense & Sensibility
directed by Ang Lee
(Columbia Tristar, 1995)

Sense & Sensibility, based on the book by Jane Austen, is one of the best movies I have watched in ages. I loved it from beginning to end. I immediately watched it a second time. It has everything: drama, comedy, action, romance and, most importantly, characters you care about and get involved with.

The plot is simple, but has several complex subplots. The main plot is that a rich man dies and leaves his estate to his son by his first marriage because of the inheritance laws in effect at that time. The second wife, Mrs. Dashwood, and her daughters are left impoverished and dependent upon the mercy of relatives. Each daughter falls in love with a rich man, but the "proper etiquette" of society dictate that these relationships cannot be sustained because a man cannot marry beneath his station.

These two daughters are polar opposites where love is concerned. Marianne is the incurable romantic who dreams of a knight in shining armor carrying her away on a white horse. Elinor is the practical, down-to-earth person who disregards romance and looks at love strictly from a practical viewpoint. Yet both must adapt to the rules of society and deal with the same heartbreak.

Enter the men. Elinor loves Edward Ferrars, but he has been engaged to a girl for five years and is soon to be married. Marianne loves Willoughby, but he is the rich snob with a debutant on his arm. And poor Colonel Brandon is head-over-heels in love with Marianne, thanks to Mrs. Jennings' matchmaking efforts. What a romantic mess! I was amazed that the writers and director were able to untangle these webs of heartbreak to bring this movie to an acceptable closure ... but they did, fabulously.

This movie was cast exceptionally well. It would be impossible to select any of the characters as the best or brightest, as all delivered outstanding performances. It is no surprise to see Hugh Grant (as Ferrars) playing the romantic, caring role. But for all the Die Hard fans, it was a real treat to see Alan Rickman (Brandon) play this part. So many of us have labeled him "ultimate bad guy" that we do not expect to see him in a role like this. It is wonderful to see that such a brilliant actor has the ability to play such radically oppositional characters. He has proven his ability to step into any role and play it without a glitch. But regardless of what role he dons, he still has an overwhelming universal appeal to viewers.

Emma Thompson (Elinor) is wonderful in any role. I have never seen this lady give a bad, or less than totally credible, performance. She utilizes the exact body language to support her wonderfully flawless delivery of lines. She is simply an outstanding actress that deserves much more credit for her roles. Kate Winslet (Marianne) was beautiful and carried the character through the range of emotions to perfection. This one role proves her versatility and ability to adapt. She is a splendid and highly gifted actress. Many say she stole the spotlight in this movie, but I cannot see that she eclipsed anyone.

One actress that deserves more credit is Elizabeth Spriggs, whom I absolutely adored in the role of Mrs. Jennings. She pulls off this part of the nosy, interfering matchmaker that we all love, but hate to see coming toward us, to absolute perfection! She was marvelous and this movie would not have been near as enjoyable without her. She kicked in the right amount of "umph" to colorize the entire entanglement and I commend the director for recognizing this need.

This is a must-see movie. It will entertain you in a special way!

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 14 June 2003

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