Projections - Movie Reviews

Mansfield Park

Leave it to Jane Austin to come up with another winner.  Director Patricia Rozema adapts the author's novel, letters and journals to tell the story of Fanny Price.

Set in 1806 England, Fanny (Frances O'Connor) leaves her impoverished family to live with the Bertrams, her wealthy relatives at Mansfield park over 100 miles away.

Fanny's letters home to her sister are full of interesting goings-on at the mansion.  Her new family is made up of her aunt, Lady Bertram, her stern husband, Sir Thomas (playwright Harold Pinter), their two daughters and two sons, Tom and Edmund (Jonny Lee Miller).

Only Edmund treats Fanny as an equal.  He delights in her writings and respects her knowledge and the two share a close relationship.  In fact, Fanny falls in love with her cousin, but he fancies the flirtatious Mary Crawford, who lives with her brother Henry (Alessandro Nivola) on the estate.

Henry, after a fleeting interest in Edmund's engaged sister, focuses his attention on Fanny, but, when he asks sir Thomas for Fanny's hand in marriage, she refuses him because she doesn't trust him.

The romance between Fanny and Edmund is like an emotional roller coaster.  They dance around one another and play with each other's feelings.  Fanny is an unconventional heroine.  At a time when wealth and position were the sole reasons for marriage, she holds out for love.

There's a lot to like about Austen's main character, she's compassionate, outspoken and intelligent.  She also knows what she wants and won't settle for less; Australian O'Connor is wonderful in the role.

The film is beautifully photographed.  A dance sequence in particular is so well done, the actors seem to be floating across the screen.

One of the years best - it's romantic, smart and utterly enchanting.

Mansfield Park
A Top Ten pick for 1999

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