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4.7 out of 5 stars284
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on May 16, 2004
This movie is one of my all-time favorites. I watch it because I find it warm and comforting. The drama and acting was superb.
I think Alan Rickman just about stole the show. He's wonderful in everything. This is the only movie that I've seen him play a good guy, and he's absolutely wonderful. You can't help but to fall in love with him. Where are the Colonel Brandons of this world!
I was highly impressed with Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson. They were so convincing as the Dashwood sisters that I'll never be able to separate them from the roles.
On top of the fine acting, magnificent scenery, and lovely costumes, you have thoughtful cinematography. Pay close attention to the framing of the scenes. I particularly like the scene where the atlas is delivered to the cottage but not by Edward. While Elinor and her mother are talking about Edward you notice that the camera zooms away. The door frame becomes a picture frame for the scene. You feel like you're in the house, almost eavesdropping. Then Elinor closes the atlas as if to say the conversation is over. There are subtle moves like that throughout the entire movie.
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on July 15, 2004
It seems that for a few years, Hollywood couldn't turn out Austen movies fast enough. This is the only English production of the bunch, and it is wonderful.
The casting is perfect. I thought it very silly that Emma Thompson was going to be the 19 year old Eleanor, and since she produced the movie I thought that was just silly vanity. But she is actually perfect as the too-sensible-for-her-own-good Eleanor. Kate Winslet is great as flaky Marianne. Even little Margaret (Austen's only fully-realized child character) is great as the spunky pre-teen. I remember when the movie came out one reviewer said that Hugh Grant's character "looks like he's forgotten to take the coat hanger out of his clothing" and that is so true... but he's so good as the clueless cad.
The film is beautifully shot, with great sets and scenery. It's a little hard for a modern person to understand why the Dashwoods were so upset to have to move to such a charming cottage! Historical perspective is maintained in the movie, though.
It is also very well written, with my very favourite line in any movie appearing (though I've read the book twice looking for it). Truly words to live by, Mrs. Dashwood tells blabbermouth Margaret that if she can't think of anything appropriate to say, "please keep your conversation to the roads and the weather!" Advice that has never failed me yet :-)
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on July 5, 2004
This is a wonderful movie with a wonderful cast and beautiful script. I don't really know what else to say except that I absolutely adore this film. Alan Rickman is superb as Colonel Brandon, I fall in love with him over and over again each time I watch this movie. He's wonderful, as is Hugh Grant as Edward Ferrars. Both characters are so likeable and real, they fit perfectly with their characters and make each viewing as enjoyable as the last. Kate Winslet, as well, is one of my favorite actresses. She fits so well in period pieces like this one.
This film is great whether or not you've read the book. It's good all on it's own. My only complaint is that I cannot picture Eleanor as only 19. While I've always pictured her well above her years, I have a difficult time accepting her age in the film. This is overlooked by Emma Thompson's brilliant portrayal of her.
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One of the Dashwood daughters is smart, down-to-earth and sensible. The other is wildly romantic and sensitive.

When those daughters are from Jane Austen novel, you can guess that there are going to be romantic problems aplenty for both of them -- along with the usual entailment issues, love triangles, sexy bad boys and societal scandals. Ang Lee deftly adapted Ausen's "Sense and Sensibility" into the sort of movie it should be -- a lushly beautiful, quietly passionate period drama.

When Mr. Dashwood dies, his entire estate is entailed to his weak son John and snotty daughter-in-law Fanny. His widow (Gemma Jones) and her three daughters are left with little money and no home.

Over the next few weeks, the eldest daughter Elinor (Emma Thompson) begins to fall for Fanny's studious, quiet brother Edward (Hugh Grant)... but being the down-to-earth one, she knows she hasn't got a chance. Her impoverished family soon relocates to Devonshire, where a tiny cottage is being rented to them by one of Mrs. Dashwood's relatives -- and Marianne (Kate Winslet) soon attracts the attention of two men. One is the quiet, much older Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman), and the other is the dashing and romantic Willoughby (Greg Wise).

But things begin to spiral out of control when Willoughby seems about to propose to Marianne... only to abruptly break off his relationship with her. And during a trip to London, both Elinor and Marianne discover devastating facts about the men they are in love with -- both of them are engaged to other women. And after disaster strikes the Dashwood family, both the sisters will discover what real love is about...

I have to give Emma Thompson credit -- she not only turns in a brilliant, tightly-wound performance as Elinor (although she does look a bit old for the role), but she also wrote the faithful, solidly written script for Ang Lee's movie. The narrative glides silkily through the story, and adapts Austen's writing into elegantly vivid dialogue ("Can he love her? Can the soul really be satisfied with such... POLITE affections?") with some moments of gentle humor ("How did you find the silver? Was it all genuine?").

And Ang Lee takes what Thompson has wrought and makes it even lovelier, filling it with pale light, misty country hills, luxurious manorhouses, sunlit gardens and yards, and rain-swept fields where handsome men go riding on horseback. He has the knack for coaxing intense emotions from small gestures and words, and evoking budding love that is unsaid and unexpressed until the end (especially for Edward and Elinor). The absolute peak of his skill is right before Marianne's terrible illness, when she's left standing on a hilltop in the rain, whispering a Shakespearean sonnet.

Marianne and Elinor make excellent dual heroines for this book -- that still love and cherish each other, even though their polar opposite personalities frequently clash. Thompson plays Elinor as being tightly wound and a bit repressed, while Winslet races joyously through the dramatic and romantic parts of the story, only for Marianne to crash and burn when Willoughby betrays her.

And the supporting cast is no less brilliant -- Jones and Rickman are particularly good as the girls' loving mother, and the mellow, quiet Colonel Brandon (the man "everyone thinks well of, and nobody remembers to talk to") who stands by hoping for Marianne's happiness. Wise, Robert Hardy, Elizabeth Spriggs and Harriet Walters all give excellent performances, and even Hugh Grant (who usually annoys me like an unreachable itch) did a good job as the shy, studious Edward.

"Sense and Sensibility" is an emotionally powerful tale about two very different sisters, and the rocky road to finding a lasting love. And it was beautifully done by both of the people at its core -- Thompson's writing and acting, and Ang Lee's direction.
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on January 21, 1999
I really enjoyed this movie mostly because of the acting talent. Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet did an incredibly good job of bringing their characters to life. After reading Sense and Sensibility, I also realized that this version was very close to the actual text. For anyone who likes romance movies, try this one and I'm sure you won't be disappointed!
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on December 9, 2013
Ang Lee's superb movie based on an equally marvelous screenplay by Emma Thompson exudes the sort of timeless propriety, decorum, good sense...and yes, sensibility that Jane Austen herself might have desired from a movie - if only movies had been around in Austen's time.

The cast is extraordinary and Patrick Doyle's sublime score elevates the whole affair to an exemplar of the costume drama/comedy. This disc looks fairly good, albeit there are some crushed blacks in the darker scenes. Otherwise, colors are rich, fine detail pleasing and everything looks as it should in 1080p. Enjoy.
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on April 30, 2014
I think the slickness and beauty of this adaptation carry it far. To me, if characters don't look as I imagine them to, if the setting and costumes and music aren't 'right', things quickly go south for me. I love the scenes of wealth - even at Barton dining on the lawn there is a sumptuousness that is lacking in other versions! But I also love the homey feel - we see scenes of domestic, country life that are appealing. I think in other versions that the sisters are too dowdy - as though losing their father and their home would suddenly make them lose all accoutrements of wealth - no smart bonnets, no jewellery, no accessories. Elinor lamenting about the cost of sugar keeps this adaptation grounded, however. The romantic aspect is well done, and of course this is important. Marianne seems at first annoyed at the 'attentions' of Brandon, and rightly besotted with Willoughby...Brandon is perfect! The chemistry between Elinor and Edward is fine. Lucy is excellent, and I don't mind the omission of her sister. Making Sir John a widower is fine too - his wife and brood aren't necessary. I love Sir John and Mrs Jennings - they are a scream! Their coarseness isn't repulsive, but a nice off-set for the more quietly brought up sisters. Even Margaret is good - and when we see her interactions with Edward at Norland, we see how Elinor could fall for him. My favourite character was Alan Rickman as Brandon, with his steady worth and constancy....difficult at times to make this character sexy as well as solid. Rickman nails it. Willoughby was good, but I think he could have been played with an underlying edge of the rake. He seems too 'good'. Overall, I really liked this version!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon January 8, 2011
Although the Pride and prejudice tv series with Colin Firth and Jenifer Ehle impressed me, I have to admit that my favorite adaptation of a Jane Austen novel remains Emma Thompson's and Ang Lee's Sense and Sensibility.

This movie is an adaptation of Jane Austen's first novel in which three sisters, named Elinor, Marianne, Margaret, and their mother have to move out of their home and relocate in a small cottage, due to the death of their father whose house has become the property of their brother-in-law and of his avaricious wife. At the same time, Elinor and Marianne both fall in love with gentlemen, played by Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant and Greg Wise, (who became in real life the husband of Emma Thompson herself) and whose lives are not what they seem to be.

As I don't want to reveal too much of the plot, I just want to say that what really impressed me was how Ang Lee managed to keep his direction very simple. There are no useless close-ups, no overbearing music and no over acting with his actors. Instead, he just lets them interpret their roles in the most subtlest way. And, unlike certain Jane Austen adaptations, Ang Lee doesn't use flashbacks to explain incidents that occur in the past or to enrich the character's dialogues. Instead, he just lets the actors speak and explain what happened. Finally, Ang Lee's shots look just like asian paintings and add details that were not included in the novel, but enhance the context of the british society in Jane Austen's novel, such as the grand ball which instead of occurring in a big room, happens through different rooms, each divided by a certain social status.

As for Emma Thompson's very funny script, she manages to condense the novel's plot in two hours, with such efficiency that she doesn't lose any of the important elements of the story. Not only that, she also gives room to certain characters like Margaret, and even enriches the story with scenes that never occurred in the book, like the discussion between Elinor and Edward in the library as they manage to get Margaret out of her hiding spot. The scene is so funny and believable in its dialogue that you really think that it was in the book, which was something that a professor, or a viewer I'm not too sure, told Emma Thompson and her producer, something they both revealed in the commentaries on the DVD.

Speaking of special features, I loved the details and information that Emma Thompson and her producer gave in their commentaries, some of which were also noted in the production diaries of the movie. You get to learn more about the movie 's production and also on her work as screenwriter and all the modifications she had to do to transpose the novel into a movie.

Finally, there is, in the special features, an excerpt from the Golden Globes ceremony in 1996, during which Emma Thompson received a prize and did a great speech, imagining what Jane Austen would have said if she had been at that ceremony.

In the end, I don't think the movie would have been as successful and as funny if Emma Thopmson and Ang Lee had not been working on this movie, which really deserved its Oscar for best scriptwriting, Golden Globe, and golden bear at the Berlin film festival.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon November 26, 2007
The enormously talented Emma Thompson wrote the marvelous screenplay for this brilliant adaptation of Jane Austen's novel of the same name. Ms. Thompson rightly won a Academy Award for Best Screenplay for her efforts. The film itself, first class in every respect, received seven Academy Award nominations and was named Golden Globe Best Picture of the Year.

The film revolves around the two Dashwood sisters, the passionate and highly impetuous Marianne (Kate Winslet) and the more conformist and restrained Elinor (Emma Thompson), who have had a sudden reversal of fortune, having been left impoverished upon the death of their father. Their financial condition is exacerbated by the evil machinations of their sister in law, Fanny Dashwood (Harriet Walter), who manipulates her husband, their half brother, into pinching pennies with them, causing them no end of hardship.

This nineteenth century tale of morals and manners details the romantic trials and tribulations of the Dashwood sisters. Marianne falls in love with a scoundrel, John Willoughby (Greg Wise), who leaves her high and dry for a woman with a fortune. Meanwhile, the kind and courteous Col. Brandon (Alan Rickman) falls in love with Marianne and suffers from unrequited love for some time, until Marianne regains her senses. Elinor falls in love with Edwards Ferrars (Hugh Grant), her evil sister in law's brother, and he with her, but many obstacles to their pairing are interposed along the way. All comes out right in the end, however, but it is the getting there that makes this film a must see.

A witty, funny, and romantic film, it boasts a first class ensemble cast. While Ms. Thompson may be a bit long in the tooth for the role which she plays, her thespian talents and charm enable her to pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat. Beautifully directed by Ang Lee, this film should top the list of those who love Jane Austen and those who adore superlative period pieces.
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on September 7, 2006
When Emma Thompson was approached with the suggestion to write a screenplay based on Jane Austen's first novel "Sense and Sensibility" (1811), she was somewhat doubtful because, as she explains on the DVD's commentary track, she felt that other Austen works, like the more expressive "Emma" and "Persuasion" or the sardonic "Pride and Prejudice" (already the subject of several adaptations) would have been more suitable. Four years and 14 screenplay drafts later (the first, a 300-page handwritten dramatization of the novel's every scene), "Sense and Sensibility" made its grand entrance into theaters worldwide and mesmerized audiences and critics alike, resulting in an Oscar for Thompson's screenplay and six further nominations (Best Picture, Leading Actress - Thompson -, Supporting Actress - Kate Winslet -, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Score - for 20 minutes' worth of composition - and Costume Design); and double honors as Best Picture and for Thompson's screenplay at the Golden Globes.

More than simple romances, Jane Austen's novels are delicately constructed pieces of social commentary, written from her rural Hampshire's perspective. Mostly confined to life in her father's parish, she was nevertheless well aware of early 19th century England's society at large, and fiercely critical of the loss of morals and decorum she saw in its pre-industrial emergent city life. Moreover, experience and observation had made her acutely aware of the corsets forced onto women in fashion terms as much as by social norms, confining them to inactivity and complete dependency on their families' and their (future) husbands' money. And among this movie's greatest strengths is the manner in which it maintains that underlying theme of Austen's writing and brings it to a contemporary audience's attention. "You talk about feeling idle and useless: imagine how that is compounded when one has no hope and no choice of any occupation whatsoever," Elinor Dashwood (Thompson) tells her almost-suitor Edward Ferrars, and when he replies that "our circumstances are therefore precisely the same," she corrects him: "Except that you will inherit your fortune -- we cannot even earn ours."

Rescuing much from the first draft dramatization of Austen's novel and amplifying where necessary, Emma Thompson and director Ang Lee ("who most unexplainably seems to understand me better than I understand myself," Thompson said in her mock-Austen Golden Globe speech) produced a movie scrupulously faithful to what is known about Austen's world and at the same time incredibly modern, thus emphasizing the novel's timeless quality. Paintings were consulted for the movie's production design, and indeed, almost every camera frame -- both landscapes and interiors -- has the feeling of a picture by a period painter. Thompson cleverly uses poetry where the novel does not contain dialogue; and again, she does so in a manner entirely faithful to Austen's subtleties -- most prominently in the joint recital of Shakespeare's Sonnet 116 by Marianne Dashwood (Kate Winslet) and John Willoughby (Greg Wise), where an ever so slight inaccuracy in his rendition of a sonnet he claims to love foreshadows his lacking sincerity.

"Sense and Sensibility" revolves around Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, their quest for a suitable husband, and the sisters' relationship with each other. Emma Thompson maintains that she did not write the screenplay with herself as Elinor in mind and would not have been accepted for that role but for the success of her previous films ("Howards End," "The Remains of the Day"); yet, it is hard to imagine who could have better played sensible Elinor: "effectual, ... [possessing] a coolness of judgment, which qualified her, though only nineteen [and thus considerably younger than Thompson], to be the counselor of her mother." And real-life 19-year-old Kate Winslet embodies sensitive, artistic Marianne: "eager in everything; [without] moderation ... generous, amiable, interesting: ... everything but prudent." (As an older actress was sought for that part, her agent presented her as 25.) An early scene in which Marianne recites Hartley Coleridge's Sonnet VII ("Is love a fancy or a feeling? No. It is immortal as immaculate truth") symbolizes the sisters' relationship and their personalities, as Marianne mocks Elinor's seemingly cool response to Edward's budding affection. (Mostly taken from the novel, the scene is embellished by the screenplay's sole inexactitude: Coleridge's sonnets were only published 22 years later). Yet, when all her hope seems shattered, Elinor, in a rare outburst of emotion, rebukes her sister: "What do you know of my heart?" -- only to comfort her again when she sees that Marianne is equally distraught.

Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman similarly perfectly portray the sisters' suitors Edward Ferrars and Colonel Brandon, both embodying the qualities Austen considered essential: simplicity, sincerity and a firm sense of morality. Willoughby, on the other hand, while entering the story like the proverbial knight on a white horse who rescues the injured Marianne, does not live up to the high expectations he evokes; he causes Marianne to unacceptably abandon decorum and, just as he misspoke in that line from Shakespeare's sonnet, his love eventually "bends with the remover to remove." Similarly, Lucy Steele (Imogen Stubbs), the near-stumbling block to Elinor's happiness, ultimately proves driven by nothing but an "unceasing attention to self-interest ... with no other sacrifice than that of time and conscience" (Austen) and is, despite a fortuitous marriage, as marginalized as the Dashwoods' greedy sister-in-law Fanny (Harriet Walter). Conversely, the boisterous Sir John Middleton and his garrulous mother-in-law, while annoying in their insensitivity, are essentially goodnatured; and marvelously portrayed in their flawed but warmhearted ways by Robert Hardy and Elizabeth Spriggs.

"Sense and Sensibility" came out at the height of the mid-1990s' Jane Austen revival. Of all movies released then, and alongside 1996's "Emma" (which has "Hollywood" written all over it) and the BBC's "Pride and Prejudice" (which finally established Colin Firth as the leading man in the U.S. that he had long been in Britain), Emma Thompson's "Sense and Sensibility" is one of those adaptations that future generations of moviegoers will likely turn to in years to come. And it is truly an experience not to be missed.
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