Tag Archives: cinema

Beauty in the Movies: Sense and Sensibility

A few weeks ago I featured the film Clueless an update of Jane Austen’s Emma, only to realize that I’ve never featured a direct adaptation of an Austen novel into film. So this week I feature Ang Lee’s beautiful Sense and Sensibility which may not be as true to the novel as some Austen fans would like, but no doubt makes up for it with stunning visuals and amazing acting.

As Mr. Dashwood passes away, his last request is that his only son, John, will promise to take care of his step-mother and sisters who will inherit virtually nothing due to England’s Primogeniture laws which stipulate that land is passed down to only male heirs. Unfortunately, John’s greedy wife Fanny convinces him his sisters will do perfectly fine on their own. As a result Mrs. Dashwood (Gemma Jones) and her three daughters, Elinor (Emma Thompson), Marianne (Kate Winslet), and Margaret (Emilie François) become strangers in their own home and must seek a new place to live.

Fanny’s brother Edward comes to visit while the Dashwoods prepare to abandon their home. Edward is nothing like his shallow, cruel sister and soon he and Elinor form a close friendship. Fanny, or course, disapproves and fearing the friendship will blossom into love makes sure Edward leaves before any such thing can happen. When Mrs. Dashwood’s wealthy cousin, Sir John Middleton, offers the women a cottage on his estate they are finally out of danger. Like most Austen, there are way to many characters and way too many plot twists to cover any more of the plot here, you’ll just have to check it out yourself, it’s worth it.

Sense and Sensibility was Jane Austen’s first published novel, in 1811, and was written under the pseudonym of “A Lady”. She was just 19 when she began what would become her first full length work, and some believe it is partially based on her relationship with her own sister Cassandra. While Elinor represents “sense” or a restrained and courteous disposition, Marianne’s character is representative of “sensibility” what we today would think of as sensitivity, or an overly emotional personality.

Both sister’s traits have their positive and negative aspects, but it does seem that Elinor’s restraint and patience win out while Marianne’s impulsive, sometimes inappropriate, behavior results in heartbreak and distress. Many Austen Biographers have argued over which of the two traits Austen saw as superior, or if she was ever sure of that answer herself. It is generally believed that Austen saw herself as free-spirited Marianne, and her sister as the more practical Elinor whom she looked up to greatly.

During this period in history, as well as many others, a woman’s search for a husband wasn’t what we think of it as today, it was an essential part of life. A woman being a spinster wasn’t awful because it meant she would be sad and lonely, but because she would be poor and most likely spend the rest of her life living off her relation’s generosity. Austen’s novels, though they deal heavily in romance, are also about the struggle to persevere.

If you were a woman born into the middle or upper classes you couldn’t simply go out and get a job, you had no options. The bechdel test fails in Austen, and in other places too, because the need for a husband was so much more than simply romance, it was in many ways a woman’s only hope and therefore a major part of the conversation among women at the time.

To think Austen reveled in the predicament women were in during her time is to completely miss the point, her characters are often in complete turmoil over their own fate, and Emma Thompson does a wonderful job of highlighting this aspect of female life in her adaptation (and in her performance as well). No one could read the novel, or watch the film, and believe that Elinor wouldn’t choose to go out and support her family if she could, but she is utterly repressed by the futility of her position.

Ang Lee’s naturalistic scenery, Jenny Beavan’s gorgeous costumes, and Emma Thompson’s insightful, funny, writing make this adaptation standout from others. There may be few of Jane Austen’s original words in the script, but the spirit of her characters and the cleverness of her storytelling are unmistakable and charming as ever.

Burberry Prorsum sleeveless dress
$1,006 – theoutnet.com

Proenza Schouler short sleeve dress
$1,150 – lagarconne.com

See by Chloe pleated dress
334 GBP – farfetch.com

TopShop cotton tank
$45 – topshop.com

DAY Birger et Mikkelsen cropped jacket
149 GBP – my-wardrobe.com

Lace jacket
23 GBP – republic.co.uk

Thierry Colson robe
400 EUR – colette.fr

Alaïa flat shoes
$283 – theoutnet.com

All Black flat shoes
$66 – endless.com

LK Designs metal necklace
101 EUR – pret-a-beaute.com

Fedora hat
$195 – barneys.com

Modstrom blue scarve
30 EUR – welikefashion.com

Gold hair accessory
$28 – nordstrom.com

John Lewis Women satin glove
15 GBP – johnlewis.com

Pashmina wrap shawl
$5.99 – amazon.com

5 Comments

Filed under Beauty in the movies

Oscar Beauties

I, like many, watch the Oscars for the clothes. If everyone was wearing jeans and sneakers it just wouldn’t be such a big deal. It’s the gowns, the hair, and the insanely expensive jewelry that make it worth watching. Those displays of glamour that most of us will never get to touch in our lifetimes so we live them vicariously through celebrities instead.

The whole idea of the Oscars is way overblown, it’s great that celebrities have awards ceremonies just like many other professions do, but the seriousness with which the show is presented makes the event seem a touch too self-congratulatory. For a show that is celebrating entertainment it never comes off as light and fun, it’s aggrandized and phony, plus there’s something incredibly dated about it. Obviously the Academy knows this and therefore chose “young and hip” actors Anne Hathaway and James Franco to host this year. Unfortunately it didn’t really work so well.

The result was Hathaway and Franco appearing uncomfortable with the grandness of the show—Anne Hathaway literally seemed like she was playing dress up and trying a bit too hard (though who could blame her?), and Franco’s way of dealing with the pressure was to act totally bored. The set, the overly dramatic music, and the cheesy writing all seem to stay the same year after year. You would think this time around with the push to appeal to younger viewers they would have changed things up aside from just the hosts. It’s weird because if the Oscars are really just an award show to celebrate achievements in the field of cinema, why do they need to appeal to anyone?

Anyway, like I said, I tune in for the clothes. The show itself drags on forever and always seems disappointing because nothing all that interesting happens. As awards shows go, it’s the biggest, but it’s also the most stuck-up which means all the stars are nervous and on their best behavior, which makes things boring. Pretty dresses however, are always fun to look at. This year my favorite by far was Mila Kunis in Elie Saab, I’m a sucker for purple. I like it when people take risks so I might be in the minority of people who loved Cate Balnchett’s Givenchy gown as well. Here are some other things I liked:

Michelle Williams and her simple but pretty hair, makeup, and earrings. She always gets it right, but also manages to keep things interesting at the same time.

Hailee Steinfeld’s youthful makeup, and her eyebrows which were thankfully left alone rather than plucked into oblivion leaving her looking as beautiful and happy as any 14-year-old at the Oscars should be.

I think it’s so funny when people on E! or other red carpet fashion round-ups make fun of Helena Bonham Carter because obviously she doesn’t give two shits what any of them think and she just wears what she wants. How can you not love that? I love her hair, her fan, her husband, and the way she sticks to her personal style no matter what.

I didn’t love Nicole Kidman’s dress, but I did love her big diamond necklace from Fred Leighton.
Also wasn’t a fan of Reese Witherspoon’s 90s prom looking black-and-white dress, but I did quite like her big sixties hair.
Anne Hathaway showed once again that she is at heart a (sometimes awkward) musical theater geek, but her Lanvin tuxedo was cute, and I especially like her custom Swarovski crystal covered heels.
Let’s hear it, who wore your favorite gowns, hair, or accessories?

9 Comments

Filed under celebrity, fashion