Jodi McAlister in conversation: The latest Persuasion

Exes, alcohol and loose historical licence: why Netflix’s Persuasion is Jane Austen via Fleabag

Published: July 14, 2022
Author: Jodi McAlister

Netflix’s Persuasion is a surprisingly faithful adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel, in terms of plot structure. It follows the second-chance romance of Anne Elliot (Dakota Johnson) and Captain Frederick Wentworth (Cosmo Jarvis) through almost exactly the same beats and events as the book. 

In terms of tone, however, this is a distinctly modern romantic comedy. As many have noted, this is Persuasion via Fleabag, complete with a heroine coping with her pain in unhealthy ways (this Anne drowns a lot of her sorrows in alcohol), and looks and direct addresses to camera that veer between the sardonic and the sincere.

Persuasian follows the last-chance romance of Anne Elliot (Dakota Johnson) and Captain Frederick Wentworth, with Henry Golding playing Mr. Elliot, Anne’s other potential love interest. Nick Wall/Netflix

The modern historical romance is nothing new, as the millions of us who have watched Bridgerton know. This Persuasion is clearly in dialogue with Bridgerton, sharing its playful relationship to history. Lines like, “it’s often said that if you’re a five in London you’re a ten in Bath,” are clearly tongue-in-cheek, foregrounding the film’s modern sensibility against its romanticised historical setting. ….

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