Mansfield Park

Mansfield Park, the latest movie to come from the novels of Jane Austen (others include Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, and even Clueless). This time, writer/director Patricia Rozema (I've Heard the Mermaids Singing) incorporated some of the letters of Jane Austen herself into the main character of Fanny Price, making Mansfield Park an odd combination of both the book by Austen, and Austen herself. Similar to the other theatrical efforts, here again we have a headstrong heroine who slowly, but surely, falls in love.

The main character here is Fanny Price (Frances O'Connor, A Little Bit of Soul, Love and Other Catastrophes), a poor little girl who's mother married for love. At a young age, her mother sends her to live in Mansfield Park, the estate of her rich relatives, the Bertrams. There, she is looked down upon by all of her relatives except for Edmund Bertram (Jonny Lee Miller, Plunkett and Macleane, Afterglow), who befriends her for her ability to write and her intelligence. Years pass, and Henry Crawford (Alessandro Nivola, The Best Laid Plans, Face/Off) and his sister Mary (Embeth Davidtz, Bicentennial Man, Fallen) move onto the estate. Henry has eyes for Fanny, and Mary has eyes for Edmund. The patriarch of the family, Sir Thomas Bertram (playwright Harold Pinter) notices that Fanny is more than a typical servant girl, and decides to introduce her to society. Fanny abhors the idea. Mary observes that Fanny desires inconspicousness as much as other women desire attention. Fanny also spurns the advances of Henry, though her resolve weakens as he continues to pursue her.

One element of Rozema's adaptation that is superior to some of the other adaptations is the dark undercurrent flowing through the film. The Bertram wealth is derived from profits off the slave trade. Sir Thomas and his family think nothing of it, while Fanny abhors the idea. She is visibly shocked when she discovers she is living off those profits. As with other Austen adaptations, the cinematography and costuming is gorgeous, and the acting is also fine. After the first half-our, it is painfully obvious that Fanny and Edmund truly love each other, and it is just a matter of watching the story unfold before you know they will end up together in a happy ending.

Mongoose Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 38 minutes, Rated PG-13 for violent images, sexual content, and drug use.

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