Netflix's Persuasion director responds to strong online reaction to the trailer starring Dakota Johnson

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Netflix's Persuasion director responds to trailer backlash
Netflix's Persuasion director responds to trailer backlash


Dakota Johnson in Persuasion

Poor Persuasion. Try as anyone might, adaptations of Jane Austen’s final novel tend to leave fans dissatisfied. Based on the strong reaction to the trailer, it seems like Netflix’s latest attempt is destined for the same fate, although director Carrie Cracknell hopes you’ll at least give the full film a chance before passing judgment.

In a new interview with IndieWire, she admits the backlash was “bruising,” but diplomatically adds, “I think people have a really deep feeling of ownership over Austen and, rightly, have a really sort of strong connection to the book.”

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Protectiveness of the source material was definitely at play in the outrage to the trailer. It wasn’t just Dakota Johnson’s Fleabag-esque asides to the camera or the anachronisms (“Now we’re worse than exes”). It’s the emphasis on humor that fans didn’t see present in Austen’s most mature, restrained work.

And yet… that’s exactly the element that Cracknell decided to play up in her adaptation. “It’s really important to me that the film holds the grown-up longing and heartache and complexity of Anne’s journey, and I’ve tried to calibrate that really carefully, as well as finding this slightly more anarchic, comic energy,” she says. “I suspect that the trailer possibly skews more towards that comic quality in the film. So I would really encourage people to watch the film and then there’ll be a really interesting conversation about which elements of the essence of the book we’ve held in the adaptation and where we’ve been a little bit more iconoclastic.”

Ultimately, the director hopes the film portrays “the fear we have of life passing us by and the depth of longing when things feel like they’re happening around you and not in the way that you want them to,” but imbued with a “kind of slightly more comedic, slightly sort of stronger tone.”

Fans will likely have a lot to say about whether this translates to a satisfactory adaptation of Persuasion when all is said and done.