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. ;)
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?
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 naiveté.
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.
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
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?