Emma Thompson
Kate Winslet
Hugh Grant
Alan Rickman
Greg Wise
Harriet Walter
Gemma Jones
James Fleet
Tom Wilkinson
Emilie Francois
Robert Hardy

Ang Lee

"Always resignation and acceptance. Always prudence and honour and duty. Elinor, where is your heart?"
Time: 136 mins.
Rating: PG
Official Web Site
Genre: Romance/Drama

Won Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Nominations for Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Original Score, Best Actress, Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress.
Though many people are tired of the "Merchant Ivory" period films, SENSE AND SENSIBILITY transcends it's time period with it's story of true love, heartbreak and familial devotion. It is an exceptional film with not a hair or scene out of place. Ang Lee directs a brilliant, intelligent, heartbreaking adaption that truly captures the scope and emotion of the original piece. Jane Austen must be smiling, wherever she is. Filled with colorful characters and real life drama, this is a tale that touches the heart with its honesty and the soul with its' depth of character.

Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet play sisters devoted to one another, who are as opposite as two women can be. Their lives are happy and secure until their father's death drives them, along with their mother and younger sister, out of their family home. Forced to accept the kindness of a distant cousin, they take up residence in a small cottage in the country. Being woman of a certain class, they are not allowed to work and must therefore survive on the charity of others or find rich husbands to support them. Speaking of which, just before they leave, Eleanor (Thompson) meets and forms a deep attachment to her sister-in-law's brother, Edward (Grant), though the match is not deemed suitable to his family. Right after arriving at their new home, Marianne (Winslet) also finds love in the form of Willoughby (Wise), a gallant and handsome gentleman who rescues her in a rainstorm.

As the title suggests, this film is about the difference between the way these two woman love. One throws caution to the wind allowing every emotion and feeling to take flight, while the other is more cautious, using her head instead of her heart. Winslet and Thompson are perfect cast as these vastly opposite ladies. It is plain that their characters have a deep affection for each other, but do not understand, nor wish to live life the way the other does. Events beyond their control stomp on the hearts of both women, leaving them without any hope for love or marriage. An excursion to London to "forget" these recent tragedies brings only additional despair and hopelessness. Bound by the conventions of the time, neither Eleanor nor Marianne are allowed to make their feelings truly known and therefore they must suffer the consequences of others' actions.

However, don't think this is a depressing picture. Jane Austin would never leave out the humor. She is very clever in manipulating her characters into uncomfortable positions and allowing us to watch them squirm, scratch and scream their way out. It is a comedy of manners that doesn't need translation. Everyone who has ever dated, will be able to relate to the situations these characters find themselves in. From the uncomfortable silences to the unwanted advances and public shame, we've all been there before. It's scary to see that nothing has really changed in 200 years. Except that now we are more in control of our sex lives. Needless to say, this is a film about finding love and the two sisters eventually make the matches that will inevitably make them happy.

Ang Lee is a masterful director, using light and color to paint a tapestry that mirrors his characters emotions. His style gives this film a much greater emotional core than many of the other period pieces that have come out in recent years. The landscapes and locations becomes their own characters, helping to set the mood and tone of the film. Thompson and Winslet prove why they are two of the best actresses working in film today. One restrained, one luminous, both desperately hopeful. It's their talent, intelligence and wit that makes this film watchable over and over again. The script is a perfect mixture of love, pain and humor, leaving no doubt why Thompson won an Oscar for writing it. Granted, the source material is a classic, but her adaptation brings it to life. Even if you don't like period pieces, you should still check out this film. SENSE & SENSIBILITY is a funny, tragic and wonderful romance that transcends its' period and makes you yearn for love.