I think we can all agree that a feel-good film is one which makes you feel all warm and fuzzy at the end. As the final credits roll across the screen, you want to be sat there with a big ol’ cheesy grin on your face, feeling satisfied that the last 90 minutes were worth your time, as you gradually make your way back into the real world. And regardless of how you feel about the 1996 film version as an adaptation, I think it’s safe to say it ticks all of the feel-good boxes.
Sense & Sensibility is primarily about two things: money and relationships. The Dashwoods, having been raised in luxury, suddenly have to move to a small cottage in the country after the death of Mr Dashwood, further enforcing the need for the young ladies to ‘marry up’. The relationships at the centre of the film are those between the sisters, principally Marianne (Kate Winslet) and Elinor (Emma Thompson – who won an Oscar for her script), and the complicated relationships which develop between them and the men who pass through the village (Alan Rickman’s Colonel Brandon, Hugh Grant’s Edward Ferrars and Greg Wise’s John Willoughby). This film reads like a Who’s Who of British cinema! Of course, most of these complications are born through miscomunication and the presumed need for women to marry men who can provide for them, rather than men who love them.
The feminist in me finds it really hard for me to get into a story with such values but the beauty of Jane Austen’s heroines is that they are women of their times but they are also incredibly headstrong and independent. A favourite scene of mine is when is where Marianne tells Elinor that she couldn’t possibly marry a man who doesn’t share her interests, regardless of his income.
As strong, modern women, it can be difficult to relate to female characters in period dramas, but Emma Thompson’s screenplay has sharp, witty dialogue and even the supporting roles feel fully developed. There’a a lot to love about it, from the rolling hills to the gorgeous gowns, and the incredible performances, particularly from the women. This was Emma Thompson’s first script-writing effort and Kate Winslet’s second feature film. A lot was riding on these two women and Sense & Sensibility proved to be a huge stepping stone in both their careers.
What say you? Should a good film be considered a good film regardless of its origins, or should any source material be taken into consideration when judging its merits? Let me know in the comments below