This surprisingly gritty adaptation of Jane Austen's novel tracks a little welcome mud through the pristine drawing rooms of Merchant-Ivory Land. Produced for television by the BBC (and certain to show up on Masterpiece Theatre next season), Roger Michell's
film is Brit Lit on the cheap, with no stars and understated art direction. Perhaps as a result, it grounds the material in a realistic historical and social context, and Michell adds depth -- and even suspense -- to a plot in which very little actually happens. Amanda Root is superb as Anne
Elliott, the archetypal Austen heroine -- no great beauty, she challenges and charms with a keen mind and a constant heart.
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