(director: Ang Lee; screenwriters: Jane Austen, Emma Thompson; cinematographer: Michael Coulter; editor: Tim Squyres; music:Patrick Doyle; cast: Kate Winslet (Marianne), Hugh Grant (Edward Ferrars), Alan Rickman (Colonel Brandon), John Willoughby (Greg Wise), Emma Thompson (Elinor Dashwood), James Fleet (John Dashwood), Harriet Walter (Fanny Dashwood), Imelda Staunton (Charlotte Palmer), Eliizabeth Spriggs (Mrs. Jennings), Imogen Stubbs (Lucy Steele), Emilie Francois (Margaret Dashwood), Richard Lumsdan (Robert Ferrars), Hugh Laurie (Mr. Palmer), Robert Hardy (Sir John Middleton), Tom Wilkinson (Henry Dashwood), Gemma Jones (Mrs. Dashwood); Runtime: 135; MPAA Rating: PG; producer; Lindsay Doran: Columbia TriStar Home Video; 2022-UK/USA-in English and French, with English subtitles)

“Spirited and luminous romantic film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Taiwan-born director Ang Lee  (“Life of Pi”/”Hulk”), in his first English-language film, helms this spirited and luminous romantic film based on the first novel of Jane Austin, which was published in 1811. Lee freshly brings out the novel’s comedy in this alluring English drama about the plight of women suffering an injustice and seeking romance. It’s written by the brilliant actress Emma Thompson, who won an Oscar for the adapted screenplay.

Henry Dashwood (Tom Wilkinson) dies unexpectedly, thereby his estate must pass on by English law to his weak-minded son John (James Fleet) from his first marriage. He’s married to the bitchy Fanny (Harriet Walter) who could care less about the daughters of Henry’s second wife (Gemma Jones)–Elinor (Emma Thompson) and Marianne (Kate Winslet), the young adults, and the 11-year-old Margaret (Emilie Francois). They are left destitute when cut off from the inheritance, and are forced into moving from their palatial home to a small country cottage in Devonshire on their uncle’s estate.

Fanny’s shy but charming soon-to-be clergyman brother Edward (Hugh Grant) captures the romantic interest of the sensible older sister Elinor’s heart. But before they can make their feelings known to each other, the hostile interfering Fanny finds a reason to send her brother to live in London because of his prior engagement. Meanwhile the more reckless Marianne has a passionate public affair with the dashing smoothy Greg Wise (John Willoughby) and a simmering affair with her more refined loyal middle-aged admirer Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman). Both romances are met with Elinor’s disapproval.

The obstacles faced by the ladies on top of their economic circumstances involve their romances, dealing with class warfare and living among the high society crowd while maintaining their social status.

It’s a well-executed and superbly acted film, that was a most pleasurable watch and one to be admired.

REVIEWED ON 3/14/2022  GRADE: A-