Friday, 16 July 2010

Northanger Abbey

Lowdown: A young and naive girl finds her lover while learning bad people exist.
Our Jane Austen roundup is coming towards its ending with a TV version from 2007 of the last of Austen's original work I am yet to watch, Northanger Abbey.
The story starts from that same old Austen starting point: A young girl in the lower echelons of early 19th century English upper classes or the higher echelons of its middle class. This time around the girl is one of ten children in a means lacking family that compensates for its shortage of funds through lots of affection, so our girl (portrayed by Felicity Jones) grows in a bubble fortified by the romantic fiction she loves reading.
Friends of her parents take her with them away from the country home she lived all her young life in to the "big city" of Bath. There she gets to dress up, go out and meet people. She meets a guy she immediately falls for (portrayed by JJ Feild), but she also meets other guys and girls that try to take advantage of her - people who are mostly motivated by the search for power and status. Later on, her lover's mean looking general father invites her rather unexpectedly to his grim mansion, Northanger Abbey, where we have ourselves a bit of a climax.
Northanger Abbey works the way all the other Austen stories work: by comparing between the contrasting behavior of different characters set in similar situations, Austen gives us a lesson on the virtues of love and the fallacies of greed. In Northanger Abbey's case this comparison is rather too extreme: the good are just so obviously good (the "secret" they're supposed to be harboring is too cheap a trick to really work in alienating them from us), whereas the baddies are obviously baddies from the word go - they even look that way. Most annoyingly, our heroine is just too naive; watching Northanger Abbey felt more like watching Pinocchio falling for one trap set by a supposedly friendly character after the other.
Still, things do work along. The story is interesting and I found Northanger Abbey's hour and a half long adventure to be pleasant enough; I did not feel like I was being overdressed with Clich├ęs.
Worst scene: The baddie would be lover convinces our naive hero that her guy forgot about her so that he can take her for a carriage ride instead. My three year old would have seen through this plot!
Overall: A simple 3 out of 5 stars affair.

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