Sense and Sensibility (1995)

Taiwanese director Ang Lee made his move to the Hollywood mainstream with this graceful adaptation of Jane Austen’s 1811 novel.

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Introduction

“Easily the most enjoyable – and, more significantly, the least complacent – of the recent rash of Jane Austen adaptations.”
Claire Monk, Sight & Sound, 1996

Following his shrewd and understated observation of social and familial codes in his films The Wedding Banquet (1993) and Eat Drink Man Woman (1994), Taiwan’s Ang Lee was a bold but inspired choice of director for this adaptation of Jane Austen’s tale of the Dashwood sisters – sensible Elinor (Emma Thompson) and the more romantically inclined Marianne (Kate Winslet) – looking for love in reduced circumstances after losing their country estate on the death of their father.

Emma Thompson, whose Oscar-winning screenplay gives a mildly feminist spin to the sisters’ plight, provides the film’s quiet and wistful heart amidst more eye-catching performances from a gallery of British acting talent, including Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman and the young Kate Winslet, Oscar-nominated in only her third film role.

The 1990s saw a spate of Austen adaptations, including Roger Michell’s Persuasion (1995), Douglas McGrath’s Emma (1996), Patricia Rozema’s Mansfield Park (1999) and the BBC’s six-part Pride and Prejudice (1995).

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