We discussed the heroine, Anne Elliot, in both the Character Connection: Heroines and the Friday Face Off: Heroines, but there is more to the book than Anne, and certainly more to the movie versions.
Amanda Root + Ciaran Hinds version:
It took me a little while to get into this one simply because neither Amanda Root nor Ciaran Hinds is what I would picture for Anne and Wentworth. But id did eventually win me over. Amanda Root has these great quiet moments in the movie where you just see everything on her face -- all of her regret and "forlorn-ness." It's beautiful. There are also these lovely moments of longing looks between the two, when they think the other isn't looking. Quite nice.
I also think the big group scenes, dinners and such, when everyone was together and boisterous -- with Anne uncomfortable and sedate -- are done marvelously, and the ensemble as a whole did a rather good job. Sophie Thomspon as Mary was particularly good in that she annoyed me in just the same hilarious way as Mary-Musgrove-the-character does. In the end, I almost forgot I wasn't a huge fan of the two main characters' casting.
Sally Hawkins + Rupert Penry-Jones version:
Though I do not like the ensemble as a whole as much in this one, I must say, Rupert Penry-Jones is my Wentworth. He does the cold shoulder so heartbreakingly well, and then follows it up with a scrumptious smolder as the film goes on. Sally Hawkins does great sidelong glances, too, which capture Anne for me. Between the two of them, they had it pretty well in-hand.
But overall, I was somewhat disappointed. I didn't love how they dealt with the letter scene. It just didn't work for me, how they broke it up and made it solitary. Part of the beauty of the scene in the book is that they are both surrounded by people, he when he writes it, she when she reads it, and they must both hide the tumult of their feelings. This was done away with in the movie, and it made me feel like something crucial was missing. Also, Amanda Hale was sort of just annoying as Mary, and it almost seemed as if she was replaying Sophie Thompson's Mary, and Charles Musgrove (Sam Halzeldine) wasn't so great, either.
For the most part, it's a respectable retelling, but it falls short for me, just as the Root/Hinds version did. I'm still waiting for the definitive film.
DINNER IS SERVED
"A little further perseverance in patience and forced cheerfulness on Anne's side produced nearly a cure on Mary's. She could soon sit upright on the sofa, and began to hope she might be able to leave it by dinner-time. Then, forgetting to think of it, she was at the other end of the room, beautifying a nosegay; then, she ate her cold meat; and then she was well enough to propose a little walk. "
COLD MEATS AND HARD TACK!
Okay, it's not really hard tack. But I figured, with this being a seaside movie, and Wentworth a seafaring man, my options were fish (which I don't eat) and hardtack -- so crackers it is!
Rather than a recipe for this one, I did something that is a favorite snack of mine. I like to call them "grown-up lunchables" which is basically a selection of deli meats (in this case, turkey), cheeses and fruits. You simply arrange them on a nice platter or plate and lay them out for a little light movie snacking. Here's mine:
Lay out your crackers (here, JJ Flats Everything Flatbread) and your deli meats, and a selection of fruits, and allow your invited movie viewers to snack to their hearts content (or eat the whole thing yourself...)
You'll notice that there are chives on one end of the plate, and you are probably thinking, why didn't she use something cuter for a garnish? The answer: it's not a garnish! My favorite thing to do is to spread the cheese on the cracker, layer on some meat, and then top it with a few crosses of chive. It adds a lovely fresh oniony flavor. (You may find putting the chives over the cheese, then topping with the meat helps it all stay together...)