Mansfield Park

Director: Patricia Rozema
Year Released: 1999
Rating: 2.0

Typical Jane Austen material: lower class girl Fanny (Frances O'Connor) goes and lives with upper-crust cousins where they free her from the slums (and give her nice clothes) while she teaches them open-mindedness; later, she gets involved in a love triangle: she loves cousin Edmund (Jonny Lee Miller) but he's a pansy and won't act on his desire while aggressive Henry (Alessandro Nivola) pursues her and she has to keep rejecting him. In the Austen book Fanny is passive and reticent, but director Rozema reverses this and makes her all-knowing: she comes down on the family patriarch (Harold Pinter) for running a slave operation, she's stubborn and defiant, and she's always correct (and she gets her way), but in this revision Rozema has inadvertently gutted the dramatic core of the book, making this mechanical and unexciting. Of note is Pinter's turn as Sir Thomas - his work as a writer earned him his reputation (and immortality), but as a performer (which he didn't do too often) he's more than capable of bringing an air of sternness and absolute authority to the screen.