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It’s been six weeks since it was released, and everybody else got mad about and then promptly forgot about it, but I have not been able to let go of my feelings about the Netflix adaptation of Persuasion. They’ve been simmering below the surface for a long time, waiting for the opportune moment for me to finally articulate them in full.
Persuasion takes the subtext of the book, turns it all into text, and mangles it in the process. This movie wants to be Regency Fleabag, but it isn’t willing to commit to either the Regency period or the Fleabag of it all. It’s a chimaera of embarrassment about its own existence. The script is just bold enough to drop a few lines cribbed from the cringiest corners of Twitter circa 2020 (“I’m an empath!” exclaims the most self-absorbed character), and creative team is willing to take a few liberties with the costuming, decor, and social mores of the time, but on the whole, the movie is too afraid to do anything more than under-season the film with these details. The overall effect is anemic and over-explained, a clear sign that the movie does not trust its audience to understand it. Reader, I hated this movie.