Valentine Marathon: Mansfield Park (1999)

I’m kind of skipping ahead and hesitated a little before watching this one.  For some of you, you’ve been aware that I’m on The Classics Adventure, a new long-term project launched this year.  I finally got my first review for the first Jane Austen book yesterday.  That was for Sense and Sensibility. Finishing up my first book and waiting for the movie to be delivered so I could review it. I’ll probably try to get it in for this Valentine Marathon also, if all goes well (which it should). Either way, I’m all hyped up on Jane Austen and I already reviewed Pride and Prejudice a little while back right HERE. As much as I’d like to wait to watch this after I read Mansfield Park, I convinced myself to watch this because I’m testing out whether I like reading Classic novels first before watching the adaptation or whether the other way around makes things easier.

Rambling aside, lets check out Mansfield Park! 🙂


mansfield park

Director: Patricia Rozema

Cast: Frances O’Connor, Jonny Lee Miller, Alessandro Nivola, Embeth Davidtz, James Purefoy, Sheila Gish, Harold Pinter, Victoria Hamilton

Due to her family’s poverty, her mother sends her eldest daughter, Fanny Price (Frances O’Connor), at a young age to go to live with her sister, Mrs. Norris (Sheila Gish) and the Bertrams.  As a little girl, she came realizing that she would possibly never leave Mansfield Park and be always viewed as lesser than her cousins.  The Bertrams never gave her much notice.  Thankfully, her imagination took her into books and writing fiction kept her company while her stay was also helped by the Bertram’s younger son, Edmund (Jonny Lee Miller) who befriended her upon her arrival.  As they grew up, Mansfield Park became her home and she got used to being unnoticed until the arrival of the siblings, Mary (Embeth Davidtz) and Henry Crawford (Alessandro Nivola).  Her beauty and wit brought on the attention of Henry Crawford while Edmund pursued Mary.  While Henry’s love was viewed well by everyone, Fanny had her doubts and challenges his truthfulness of those emotions.

mansfield park Mansfield Park carries a lot of character in this one.  Although there is no one that really has the whole big names attached to this production, there is a lot to love.  For starters, like many period productions/adaptations, the set is beautiful.  Mansfield Park and its surrounding estate, even Portsmouth and the trip and from carry such beautiful scenery and elegance.  I went into Mansfield Park, like many of my Valentine Marathon selections this year, and I fully expected to love it and it was for the most part, pretty awesome.  What makes Jane Austen ladies so lovable is the growth in the conflicts and situations they go through.  They also each have their certainty of whatever affection or emotion they have, which usually leads them to realize something more. In the hands of Frances O’Connor, who I’ve never seen anywhere before, she really captures that role.  Fanny Price may not be the centre of attention at Mansfield Park but Frances O’Connor’s portrayal of this role really gave it a lot of class and thought provoking moments and even at one point, I kind of hated how she dealt with Henry. Its kind of really brilliant that they had those inserts in the movie where she’s literally reciting a letter or something but she is talking to the camera.  Fanny Price is a lovely character in the Jane Austen world, I just can’t help to wonder if she may be more different in the novel.  I guess I’ll find out when I read it.

Mansfield Park

Moving on, I’m a little torn to say this because this may be where the movie lacks a little: Jonny Lee Miller as Edmund Bertram.  I rarely have an issue with the casting choices and I love Jonny Lee Miller.  Especially because he’s absolutely awesome as Sherlock in Elementary.  I was looking at his filmography and I’ve actually seen more of his roles than I even realized but although, Edmund is still a good character, I feel like there was something a little awkward.  He had okay chemistry in that whole building tension between them as friends but its just because it takes time to like Edmund and really appreciate his character.  Looking at this on a standalone character for Edmund, I can’t help but think that he could be a little more charismatic? But, maybe its because as a comparison, the appearance of Henry Crawford brings on so much charm that its overshadows his character.

mansfield park

Saying that, I think its time to take a look at Mary and Henry Crawford.  These two have this appealing appearance and they show how there really is no inner beauty to them.  They know how to look good and have a good place in society and all that pretty stuff, but when things don’t go their way, they are quite disrespectful in their personality.  They have a rather twisted way of living and they are actually pretty selfish for momentary pleasure.  And while these siblings are like that, Alessandro Nivola and Embeth Davidtz (who I’ve seen in other movies and enjoyed), they do a good job and being the contrast to say Fanny’s personality who is more reserved and Henry to Edmund’s.

Man, I’m going really into a character analysis that I probably will do for the book after I read it.

Point is, everyone does a fine job at their role in Mansfield Park.  The story itself and how its told actually gives Fanny a lot of appeal.  She is a really great Austen character. Although still rather strong-willed, she does have a lot of wit and her growth and choices gives her character development as well.  Although, it takes time to really appreciate Jonny Lee Miller’s Edmund appreciation, but his character is really well contrasted because of Alessandro Nivola’s Henry.  It has a good bit of romances and courting, some funny moments and some really nice self-reflection.  Its not exactly as great as the Pride and Prejudice movie (for example) but it has a lot of really great aspects as well 🙂 I’d definitely recommend it!

Have you seen Mansfield Park? Have you read the source material? What are your thoughts?

Three Quick Reviews: Vanity Fair, The Upside of Anger, Gnomeo & Juliet

You know whats great about these quick reviews? Its when you have these movies that can be explained in just simple terms how you feel and you just have to write a paragraph instead of trying to analyze way too much. Anyways, it would be not feasible to write full reviews for everything unless I have everything backlogged and then, I’d just forgot I watched it.

Enough of ramblings, another three quick reviews for stuff I watched outside of recommendations 🙂


vanity fair poster

Director: Mira Nair

Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Romola Garai, James Purefoy, Tony Maudsley, Rhys Ifans, Jonathan Rhys Meyers

Vanity Fair is adapted from the novel (which I haven’t read) about Rebecca Sharp (Reese Witherspoon), a girl who is orphaned at a young age and grows up poor and once she leaves the home for girls as governess, she tries to ascend the social ladder.  We follow her through different stages in her life as society tries to pull her back but she always finds a way to climb back up in her own way.

I’m just going short here because this movie was a bit over 2 hours long and I have never watched a movie in 4 parts and I watched this over 3 days (at least).  It just dragged on and on.  If it wasn’t for a rather charming James Purefoy for a bit of the movie and hating that he got married to a very annoying Rebecca Sharp and feeling bad for him, I’d have shut off the movie. Still, I did keep on because I kept hoping it would get better.  Till now, I don’t really know if I’m supposed to feel good or bad for Rebecca Sharp… I guess thats why, I downloaded the novel to my tablet and I’ll read it to know what the actual story really was 😉 Oh, and the girl from Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (review HERE) was in it too!

The Upside of Anger (2005)

the upside of anger poster

Director: Mike Binder

Cast: Kevin Costner, Joan Allen, Keri Russell, Evan Rachel Wood, Erika Christensen, Alicia Witt

The Upside of Anger is about Terry Ann (Joan Allen) whose husband unexpectedly disappears and she is left with her four daughters: Andy (Erika Christensen), Emily (Keri Russell), Hadley (Alicia Witt) and Popeye (Evan Rachel Wood). As much as she should be taking care of her teenage girls, they end up taking care of her instead, as she picks up her pieces and eventually engages into a relationship with an once baseball star and now radio DJ, Denny (Kevin Costner). At the same time, the daughters each have to manage their own lives.

I chose The Upside of Anger because of Kevin Costner and my lack of exposure to his roles.  Other than being slightly lengthy at parts, I felt that The Upside of Anger is definitely one that should be seen by more people.  I don’t know, maybe a lot of people know about it? Do you? Its the first time I’ve heard of it at least and it took me by surprise in a very good way.  As with the title, there are a lot of conflicts and crazy going on but somehow it gets the story flowing and we get a good view on the relationship of Terry  Ann and each of her daughters, different point of views and how she changes and eventually sees things a bit different, a lot was slowly through an outsider’s perspective who was let inside which was Kevin Costner’s character Denny.  The movie starts and ends with the narration of her youngest daughter, nickname Popeye and she recaps the essence very well with this quote:

Anger and resentment can stop you in your tracks. That’s what I know now. It needs nothing to burn but the air and the life that it swallows and smothers. It’s real, though – the fury, even when it isn’t. It can change you… turn you… mold you and shape you into something you’re not. The only upside to anger, then… is the person you become. Hopefully someone that wakes up one day and realizes they’re not afraid to take the journey, someone that knows that the truth is, at best, a partially told story. That anger, like growth, comes in spurts and fits, and in its wake, leaves a new chance at acceptance, and the promise of calm.- The Upside of Anger


Director: Kelly Asbury

Cast: James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Ashley Jensen, Michael Caine, Matt Lucas, Jim Cummings, Maggie Smith, Jason Statham, Ozzy Osbourne, Stephen Merchant

I’m sure I don’t need a synopsis for this classic Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet but in a children’s version with garden gnomes.  Forbidden love, family feud, garden gnomes, red versus blue, etc.  You know the story already. Just remember Gnomeo & Juliet is aimed to children and it doesn’t get that bad.  At least I don’t remember it being too hitting adult territory.  With that said, if you sit through this with a fully alert adult brain, I promise you will find a lot of flaws in the story design and the premise itself. I mean, just for starters, how in the world do the owners not know where they left their garden gnomes and not question when they are shifted or don’t look the same?

gnomeo and juliet 1

BUT,  if you can overlook those things and go to being a simple mind, they do have some pretty fun moments and I loved the voices.  I recognized the main voices, especially Michael Caine.  Who doesn’t recognize his because its so awesome. I have to admit that I paused when I saw Jason Statham (WHAT?!?!). That just made this totally out of the world.  I really love the voice work. It made the characters very likeable despite its very predictable and possibly overused storyline.  The characters were very cute and there were some nice moments.  And well, some pretty nostalgic ones too.  I may not have had garden gnomes when I was younger because it wasn’t my dad’s thing but we had those plastic flamingos.  Coincidentally, the plastic flamingo was one of my favorite characters.

Gnomeo & Juliet is an average animation. It aims to please kids more than the parents.  The upside is that it has a talented cast that gives life to each of these characters to make them fun and vibrant.

OVERALL..Out of these three, I’d really say that The Upside of Anger is the best one.  It has a great cast with Joan Allen, Kevin Costner and my personal favorite, Keri Russell (who I almost wrote Felicity).

What has me curious now is: Have you heard of The Upside of Anger before? What is your favorite version of Romeo and Juliet? Have you read Vanity Fair before and is it similar to this movie?

Just a little intermission while I decide which movies from the recommendations list I want to watch! 🙂 Happy Friday!!