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Netflix's Adaptation Of Jane Austen's Persuasion Came Out, And Many Fans Have A Big Complaint

Dakota Johnson in Persuasion movie Netflix
(Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix’s Persuasion is the latest of 2022’s releases of book-to-movie adaptations that’s been released to the public. What we know about Persuasion is that it stars Fifty Shades of Grey’s Dakota Johnson about a woman who gets her second chance at love. This Jane Austen romance novel has been adapted four times on television with the Netflix adaptation being the famed novel’s first feature film version. But ever since this Netflix period piece has come out, many fans have voiced a major complaint about it: the contemporary dialogue.

One fan posted their reaction to Persuasion by tweeting that there are successful Jane Austen adaptations like how Jane Austen’s Emma fits in well with Amy Heckerling’s Clueless in creating a loose adaptation for the modern era. However, this fan says that Persuasion may do well with fitting in with the time period, but gives a contemporary version of the film’s dialogue. 

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Another fan tweeted that Persuasion felt that a historical costume movie with “aggressive modern dialogue” could be fun, but should not be present in the world of Persuasion. Films and series have followed this method like in Marie Antoinette which had modern-day music and dialogue while in the late 1700s or in one of Apple TV+’s best shows Dickinson where these 19th-century characters talk like modern teens. But, of course, that doesn’t mean that technique meshes well all the time.

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If you want more proof of the costume drama’s dialogue being nonsensical with the times, this fan posted on Twitter screenshots of examples with captions of the dialogue on the bottom of each scene that Jane Austen and period dramas alone would look down on.

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It is one thing for films like Greta Gerwig’s Little Women to have some changes deviate from the source material. It is another matter when a film is trying to fit in with the times of the novel, but loses audience by the way the dialogue is handled. This new Netflix release currently has a 36% on Rotten Tomatoes where its consensus praised Dakota Johnson, but did not find it a believable Jane Austen adaptation. Variety’s review felt like Persuasion was trying to modernize itself by borrowing the comedic gimmicks of the British comedy series Fleabag which pulled itself away from the classic novel’s tone. 

It can be very disappointing for fans when a Jane Austen novel to not translate well on screen all in its attempts to modernize what’s already brilliant dialogue. A number of successful Jane Austen film adaptations like Pride & Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, and Emma, prove that there is no need to modernize the dialogue of a piece of literature that fans already love exactly the way it is. You can see for yourself what you think of Persuasion as you watch it now on your Netflix subscription

Carly Levy
Carly Levy

Just your average South Floridian cinephile who believes the pen is mightier than the sword.