First, a confession: I didn't read the screenplay half of this book, only the diaries. I must admit that I'm not a huge fan of reading screenplays unless they're for something I dearly love, so I skipped that. But Emma Thompson's filming diary is delightful, and I read it all this afternoon. And so I have this impromptu addition to my Jane Austen Week celebratory posts :-)
My goodness, I want to be friends with Emma Thompson and hang out with her all the time. She is an amazing blend of intelligence, humor, and capability -- or at least, that's how she comes across in this collection of her random thoughts while filming Sense and Sensibility (1995), which she not only starred in, but wrote the screenplay for. (And she won the Oscar for Best Screenplay, too!) If you're not particularly interested in how movies get made, you might not be too keen on this book, but I found it fascinating, hilarious, and informative. So many insights into the story and characters, so many incisive and wry comments about modern life as an actor, so many random and chuckle-inducing anecdotes.
However, a sprinkling of bad language and some casual mentions of sexual matters prevents me from universally recommending this book. Alas. I wish it was cleaner, because it's lovely overall.
Particularly Good Bits:
I seem finally to have stopped worrying about Elinor, and age. She seems now to be perfectly normal -- about twenty-five, a witty control freak. I like her but I can see how she would drive you mad. She's just the sort of person you'd want to get drunk just to make her giggling and silly (p. 253).
Sense and Sensibility is about love and money. Perhaps its main question is, can love survive without money? A pithy question. Romantic codes teach us that love conquers all. Elinor disagrees. You need a decent amount of money. It's a difficult thing to accept. It cries out against all our cherished ideals. But interesting that our 'western' romantic symbols cost a great deal. Roses, diamonds... (p. 255).
Elinor and Edward seem both to belong to the eighteenth century, the age of Augustan reason. They are firm, balanced, judgemental, drily humorous, far more Alexander Pope than Walter Scott. Marianne shoots toward the middle of the nineteenth century, embracing each romantic ideal like a new lover. The turn of a century always seems to produce a Janus-like generation, some clinging to old systems, some welcoming a new age. Always a powerful time (p. 265).
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: a disappointing R for language and suggestive material, as well as drinking and smoking.