February 13, 2017

Northanger Abbey (2007)


In participation of Hamlette's "I Love Jane Austen Week", I am reviewing Northanger Abbey, 2007.

Being that the last time I wrote a movie review was in January of 2016, I find that I'm quite out of practice at reviewing movies. Bear with me. ;)

(Not to mention, I feel almost guilty writing this review, because I haven't actually READ Northanger Abbey since I was around 14. *cringe* Trust me, it's on my "to be read again" list.)

I find Northanger Abbey bright and whimsical, despite its melodramatic and dark moments. It's so unlike any of Jane Austen's other stories. It's almost like a light, fluffy short story compared to novels like Sense and Sensibility or Persuasion. Those stories have a level of depth and maturity foreign to Northanger Abbey. But I'm not demeaning Northanger. This story still provides a solid plot, vivid characters, and plenty of wit and fun. It's different from Jane Austen's later works, that's all. But that certainly doesn't mean different is bad. ;)

Catherine is our heroine, a sheltered homeschooler young girl who loves to read Rather Horrid Gothic novels (I don't think her parents kept a very close eye on her reading material :P) and has too many siblings to count. They play games together and live a wonderful, carefree life in the country.

I don't have a very high opinion of her parents. They're not horrible, but they're not wonderful either. Her father tells his wife that their daughter is "almost pretty". Is it not the duty of parents to think their children practically perfect in every way? It seems rather hard on poor Catherine to just call her "rather pretty", even if she couldn't hear their conversation. :P

(Not to mention, there's again the fact that they don't keep a very good check on what she reads.)

One day Catherine is invited to visit Bath with some family friends, Mr. and Mrs. Allan. The couple can be rather oblivious, but their heart was in the right place when they invited Catherine along with them. I am inclined to like them, although they are not much more wise than Catherine's parents. Probably less so. :P
But, whatever their faults, they are generous. Catherine receives a new wardrobe from them. What girl wouldn't appreciate that?

Throughout the movie there is a narrator (presumably supposed to be Austen herself) which adds a lovely, storybook charm to the film. Again, this sets it apart from the usual Austen movie. It brings to mind a young Jane Austen writing this story, laughing over it at her desk, and eventually reading it aloud to her family and friends.

At a dance in Bath, Catherine meets, quite by chance, the hero of our story, Henry Tilney.
one smirk and then we may be rational again

Heeennnry. Henry Tilney is in the top three tier of my favorite Austen heroes (the others being Mr. Knightley of Emma and Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice).  Witty, charming, full of fun and good humor....he's just so NICE. He's confident of himself without being arrogant, and his kindness and gentle flirting towards Catherine makes me smile.

And he understands muslin. That's a necessity. ;)

haha, I love it when he asks her about what she'll write in her journal

He and Catherine are simply adorable. He teases her, as he might tease a younger sister, and she proves to be quite gullible when he tells her his ridiculous stories. But he's also kind and considerate and goooodness he's just so nice I can't handle it.  They balance each other out, he with his outgoing temperament and careful discernment, she with her shy sweetness and naivetĂ©.


Some other characters who appear in this story are either wonderful or despicable. There's the creepy-beyond-belief  fortune hunter, John Thorpe, (whom Catherine is way too taken in by. It frustrates me to no end when she agrees to go for a drive with him. STAY AWAY FROM HIM, CATHERINE) the darling Eleanor Tilney, Henry's sister, and John Thorpe's horrid sister, Isabella.

Let's just get it out of the way that the Thorpes are devious and deceptive and manipulative. Don't trust them. That's all I shall say.


Eleanor Tilney, on the other hand, is one of my favorite characters in NA, if not in the entire JA universe. SHE IS JUST THE BESTEST, OKAY? I want to be friends with her. She's so mature and gentle and level headed, but also very kind. She's both motherly and sisterly towards Catherine, taking her under her wing for Henry's sake, endeavoring to be her friend in a helpful, companionable way. Unlike Isabella Thorpe, who only wishes to manipulate her. *spoilers--highlight to view* I like to imagine that Eleanor's common sense and maturity rubs off on Catherine once they are sisters-in-law. ;) *end spoilers*

As the story progresses, Catherine finds herself torn between two groups of friends, the Thorpes and her brother James, and the Tilneys. She is invited to stay with the Tilneys at Northanger Abbey, their castle-esque home where Catherine's imagination finally has room to run wild. (No, that's not a good thing.)

Fueled by stories and suggestions from Henry and gossip told to her by Isabella, Catherine begins to take everything odd about the Tilney's and their home that she notices and apply them toward a rapidly growing fantasy in her mind. She suspects Henry's father, the rude, cold General Tilney, of an unspeakable crime.

*spoilers, highlight to view*

The scene where Henry discovers what Catherine has been suspecting causes me pain. I just feel like shaking Catherine. What is wrong with you??? Maybe I feel so strongly the embarrassment and awkwardness in this scene because I myself have a slightly suspicious, over-imaginative nature myself. Faced with as much "evidence" as Catherine was that Henry's father murdered his wife...well, I sincerely hope I wouldn't act as foolishly as Catherine.  The moment Henry says, his voice heavy with disappointment, "Catherine? How could you? What sort of a fevered imagination must you have?".....I just feel awful for her. Frustrated with her, yes. But still. Poor thing. :(

Now, you could say Henry was to blame for filling her head with such dramatic notions. But I know he didn't mean to, and if he had been aware of how silly Catherine was, I'm sure he would have been more careful. She is young and naive, yes, but surely she could see he was teasing her! 


Catherine was foolish and should have known better than to assume such awful things about the family who has allowed her to be their guest. She should have respected the family's privacy better. Even if General Tilney HAD murdered his wife....what business of it was Catherine's? She really couldn't do anything about it.


I don't know. I have mixed feelings about Catherine. :P

*spoilers over*


I won't say much more about the story or the resolution, for I don't wish to give it away. But, since the ending for two characters is pretty obvious, I will at least say it's cute and funny and altogether happy. :)

The costumes of this film (Not including some of Isabella's dreadfully lowcut gowns. I mean, AHERM. Girl, there is a reason you have a top attached to your skirt! :P) are absolutely delightful and lovely. Catherine's wardrobe especially is so fresh and spring-like. I would love to own many of her gowns. My favorite may be the white and blue one she wears the evening she meets Henry at the dance.


As for the content, Catherine has quite a number of "dream" sequences all of which border on inappropriate or frightening. I would definitely recommend skipping those scenes (most are always easy to see coming, just watch for darkness and thunder and lighting :P) and there are a few other scenes I skip as well. One involves Catherine reading a horrid book (narrated aloud for us, how thoughtful of you, Catherine!), Catherine and Isabella talking about said horrid book, and one scene involving Isabella and Captain Tilney that isn't explicit, but it's quite obvious what they were doing.

There is some "mild" language, mostly used by the absolutely wonderful Mr. Thorpe. (sarcasm...)

I think that may be all. If you'd like more details or exact specifications of where to skip, feel free to ask in the comments. :)

Overall, I find this such a lovely adaption, faithful to the novel (from what I remember) and quite entertaining. It's relatively short and sweet, great for when you're in a Jane Austen mood, but don't have enough time on your hands for, say, the 5 hour 1995 Pride and Prejudice. ;)

Have you seen Northanger Abbey?
What are your thoughts?

30 comments:

  1. I have read Northanger Abbey, but I haven't seen this! It looks and sounds really fun! When I read it I loved Henry! It looks like they cast great actors! Nice review!!!!

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    1. MovieCritic,
      I hope you like this if and when you see it, then! I love Henry, too. :D
      Thank you!

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  2. Knightley, Darcy, and Tilney are my three favorites, too! *high five* And Eleanor Tilney is one of my favorite characters ever. I am actually working on a future post about her for my blog.

    Loved your review, Natalie!:)

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    1. *high fives back* That's so cool!! Ooh, I want to read your post about Eleanor!
      Thank you!

      Delete
  3. The American version on DVD doesn't have several of Catherine's dreams -- if it says "Masterpiece Theater" or "As seen on Public Television," then you're missing the worst dream and it's much nicer to watch.

    Henry Tilney <3 What a sweetheart!

    I love how Catherine must learn not to let her imagination run away with her, but Henry also learns that teasing people is not always harmless, and he needs to be sure people know when he is telling the truth and when he is embellishing things. I like it when both the leads learn lessons, not just the main character!

    Nice review, Natalie -- thanks for contributing it to the blog party :-)

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    1. My dvd doesn't have "that one scene" so yeah. Definitely a help! :)

      He is!

      Ooh, that's very true. Love how you pointed that out. :)

      Thank you! And thanks for hosting it!

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  4. Great review, I love Northanger Abbey but especially the first half when they're in Bath and she's with Isabella and meets Mr. Tilney - like you said it feels much more light-hearted than the other stories. I'm re-reading it since my sister's just started university in Bath, and it's so surreal talking to her on Skype and being like "and have you been to the assembly rooms yet? and the pump rooms?" haha

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    1. Thanks, Catherine! Hee, yes, the beginning is quite fun, isn't it? Wow, your sister is going to university in Bath? That's so cool! That must be fun talking with her about it. Hopefully you could visit her there someday. :)

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  5. Oh I love this movie, and you did an excellent job reviewing it!

    Mr. Tilney, Mr. Knightley, and Mr. Darcy are my top three favorite Austen heroes, too! And yes, that scene where he asks Catherine about what she'll write in her journal is so funny and cute.

    I completely agree with you about Eleanor! She is such a sweetheart, and a wonderful friend to Catherine. She's definitely one of my favorite characters in Northanger Abbey. :)

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    1. Thanks, Molly!!

      Cool! :D Aww, glad you like that scene, too.

      Yay for another Eleanor fan!

      Delete
  6. This is . . . the one Jane Austen that I DON'T like. Soary :-P Henry Tilney upsets me, and that's the truth. But, you know, that's probably because I really don't like teasing . . . We've talked about this :-)

    I also find that when I'm having to deal with real-life people who try to tease me (*COUGHS LOUDLY*), my tolerance for fictional characters who tease others shrinks exponentially. So probably I should not think about Henry Tilney right now. I should think about something else. *nods sagely*

    I really like Catherine's dresses in these photos; because blue is my favorite color, and she wears lots of blue :-)

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    1. Heehee. I think I already knew that. At least, I knew you didn't like Henry. That's quite all right...I love him, but that certainly doesn't mean you have to. And since you dislike teasing so much, I can certainly see why he would plummet to the bottom of your favorite Austen heroes list!

      Haha. Aww, yes, indeed. Do not think of Henry Tilney. Remember the photos I sent you? Think of Colonel Brandon, instead. :)

      Blue is my favorite, too. :)

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    2. YES. I will think about the photos of Colonel Brandon instead. You're such an understanding friend *hugs*

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    3. Haha! Awww, thank you!! *hugs*

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  7. This is probably my favorite Austen book but they had too many innuendos in the movie! Although the guy who played Henry Tilney (what's his name?) remains perfect. The costumes were beautiful but I agree the dresses were sometimes too low. Enjoyed your review!
    And yes, Eleanor Tilney is THE BEST! As the oldest in my family I've always dreamed of having an older sister or mentor like her! She's precious

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    1. Aww, I know. Certainly makes it a little less enjoyable. :( I'm glad you like Henry, though! I find him a really perfect book-to-movie casting.
      Eleanor as an older sister would be fantastic!!
      Thank you!!

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  8. I LOVE THIS MOVIE SO MUCH YAAAAS <3333 Also I really want to read the book!!
    Lovely review! :)

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    1. Aww, thanks, Abbiee!! Ooh, you should read the book. From what I remember, it was super good. :)

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  9. I read Northanger Abbey, but I don't remember much about it. I do remember liking it though. I will have to re-read it and then see the movie, which I haven't seen before. Looks like a good one though.

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    1. Classi Girl,
      That sounds like a great plan! :D

      Delete
  10. I have seen Northanger Abbey. I love it!!!! Despite the dark moments and melodramatic, like you said. It's a lovely movie though.

    I LOVE your new blog look!!! It's just scrumptious!!!

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    1. Glad you like it, Rachel!!

      Aww, thank you! :D

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  11. Finally got around to reading this. (I'm so behind.) And I must say, this was splendid!! Very nicely put together. I'm really wanting to watch this now. :) But goodness me, how do they even have time for all those inappropriate scenes? How long is this movie anyway?

    I LOVE Henry Tilney in the book! He's so kind, and sweet, and fun. And Catherine is very sweet, too, though she does let her imagination run away with her.

    Haha. That little insert about homeschooling. Well, Catherine was practically homeschooled, wasn't she? :) And, aww. That's too bad about her parents not being very likable. They seemed pretty nice in the book, but then they're not in it a whole lot.

    Anyway, I guess that's all I've got to say for now. Lovely review, Natalie! :D

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    1. Aww, not at all. :) (don't ever feel like you HAVE to comment on every post. Because I understand if you can't or don't want to for any reason! ;))

      Ooh, well, we could probably fit this one onto The List as well. (I know, right? It's about 2 hours long. So not really THAT short. It just feels short compared to the other JA miniseries. :))

      Henry is adorable. <3

      Haha, my reasoning exactly. ;) That may be part of it. They aren't in the movie very much for me to have a solid opinion on them, but I just don't love them. *shrugs*

      Thank you!!

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    2. Oh, I know I don't HAVE to comment on every post. Still, I like to comment on as many as I can. (Kind of like someone else I know. Heehee. ;)) And besides I love the story of Northanger Abbey, and we were just talking about the movie, so I couldn't really pass this one up, now could I? ;)

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    3. Aww, thanks. :D (heehee ;))

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  12. It has been too long since I have read this one, I had actually forgotten about Eleanor Tileny and now nice she was! I think that definitely means it is time for a reread. (Also, your comment about Henry being nice. xD ) I always liked his sense of humor.

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    1. Skyeler,
      Same here! I really must re-read it soon. :) Thanks for commenting!

      Delete
  13. I had to skip this because I've not seen it nor read the book, but it does look like a great movie, and I'm keen to see it when I can!! :D

    ~Miss Meg

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    1. No problem! :) Yes! You should try it sometime! (But read the book first. ;))

      Delete

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