Dakota Johnson better brush up on some Austen, as she’s about to play one of the author’s iconic heroines. Johnson is set to star in Netflix’s modern retelling of Jane Austen‘s Persuasion, which tells the story of an “older” heroine who rekindles a romance with a former beau.
Variety reports that Dakota Johnson is set to star in Netflix’s “modern, witty approach” to Jane Austen’s 1817 novel Persuasion, the author’s final novel published six months after her death. The original novel tells the story of Anne Elliot, a 27-year-old woman whose family falls on hard times, and after a chance reunion with the man whom she had broken an engagement with seven years earlier, gets a second chance at love.
The Netflix adaptation will be a “retelling” described as a “modern, witty approach,” which follows “Anne Elliot, a headstrong woman living with her snobby family on the brink of bankruptcy. Unmarried and 27-years-old, Anne reconnects with a man she was once persuaded to reject and faces a second chance at love.”
Carrie Cracknell, who directed the Jake Gyllenhaal-starring Broadway play Sea Wall/A Life, makes her feature directorial debut with Netflix’s Persuasion. Ron Bass and Alice Victoria Winslow have adapted the screenplay.
Persuasion has been adapted to the screen multiple times, including a 2007 TV movie starring Sally Hawkins, but this is the first major version to take the story to modern day. But Austen’s work has proven surprisingly adaptable to modern day, with beloved comedy classics like Clueless taking inspiration from the writer’s works. And there seems to be an Austen-aissance of sorts lately — another Persuasion movie is in the works under Searchlight Pictures with Succession star Sarah Snook in the lead, while Autumn de Wilde’s 2020 film Emma. starring Anya Taylor-Joy was a frothy hit.
Johnson is a charismatic star with a hidden talent for comedy that hasn’t been properly tapped into yet, and would do well in a wry Austen adaptation. But modern-day adaptations of Austen can be hit-or-miss, with these versions frequently shedding the social commentary in favor of becoming a straightfoward rom-com (Clueless sidestepped this by making it about the high school hierarchy). Johnson’s movie choices outside of arthouse films with Luca Guadagnino have been hit-or-miss too, and I only hope that Persuasion is closer to a hit.
Production on Netflix’s Persuasion is expected to begin in May. MRC Film, the studio that backed Knives Out, is developing the movie with Netflix. Andrew Lazar and Christina Weiss Lurie will serve as producers. Executive producers include Elizabeth Cantillon via her untitled MRC Film Romance label, Michael Constable and David Fliegel.
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