Sense & Sensibility (1995)

Lose your heart and come to your senses ...


Emma Thompson .... Elinor Dashwood
Kate Winslet .... Marianne Dashwood
Hugh Grant .... Edward Ferrars
Alan Rickman .... Colonel Christopher Brandon
Greg Wise .... John Willoughby
Gemma Jones .... Mrs. Dashwood
Emilie Fran'ois .... Margaret Dashwood
James Fleet .... John Dashwood
Harriet Walter .... Fanny Dashwood
Elizabeth Spriggs .... Mrs. Jennings
Robert Hardy .... Sir John Middleton

Adapted from the Novel by Jane Austen;
Screenplay by Miss Emma Thompson.

This story begins with Mr. Dashwood on his deathbed, talking with his son, John. Because of English law, Dashwood's whole Norland Estate must be given to John, with only 500 pounds a year designated for his second family. Looking his son squarely in the eye, the elderly Mr. Dashwood firmly lets John know his wishes for part of his estate to go to his second wife and his daughters, strongly imploring him and making him promise to financially take care of his step-mother and his three half-sisters. While John Dashwood earnestly promises his father he will do so, he later shows himself to be an arrogant, selfish, gutless wonder, by agreeing with his wife's rationalizations to do the opposite. John's heartless, selfish wife Fanny easily persuades him into only giving them 20 pounds on occasion, providing them no house to live in, and no dowries for the future.

John and Fanny move into what is now their Norland Mansion with Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters (Elinor, Marianne and young Margaret), who can stay temporarily until they find a home to rent. Elinor is the strong, practical one who makes the hard decisions as her mother and Marianne aren't taking this at all well. During this time, Fanny's brother Edward Ferrars comes to visit. The amiable, kind Edward endears himself to the Dashwood women by his thoughtfulness, his kindness and his sense of humor. Elinor and Edward are soon attracted to each other, but their blooming, deep friendship is abruptly stopped when he is suddenly called home by his tyrannical mother, who demands absolute obedience from her children, or she will cut them completely off without a penny. This pairing between Elinor and Edward is not approved of by his sister Fanny because Elinor has no money, and the family wants Edward to marry someone with social status and money, as the family has great plans for Edward's future, though Edward really wants to be a pastor in the countryside.

Luckily for Mrs. Dashwood and her three daughters, her cousin, Sir John Middleton invites them to come and stay in the small, three story Barton Cottage, located on his estate, Barton Park. Sir John Middleton and his mother-in-law, Mrs. Jennings come to enthusiastically greet them, making them feel wanted and at home.

It doesn't take long for two country gentlemen to become interested in young Marianne, who loves poetry and is an accomplished pianist. Both the gentlemanly, noble, upright Colonel Brandon and young, dashing, full of fun, spontaneous John Wiloughby begin to court young Marianne, with Wiloughby capturing her heart totally. Things look very promising in the marriage arena, as John and Marianne care for each other, and John asks to see her alone. Instead of proposing to her as all of the Dashwood women thought, he comes to her on the day he asked to see her alone, looking very guilty, and abruptly says he has to leave, giving no explanation. Marianne is crushed, but refuses to give up on him, pining away.

At a family get together at Barton Park Mansion that includes Mrs. Jennings' daughter, Charlotte and her husband Mr. Palmer, Elinor meets the insincere, not too bright Lucy Steele, a niece of a schoolmaster, who confides to Elinor that she and Edward Ferrars had been secretly engaged for five years, and was scared about his family finding out. Elinor puts two and two together and surmises that this was what Edward was trying to tell her in the stable before he was abruptly sent away by Fanny. The now tormented, heart-sick Elinor, being the self-disciplined, practical person she was, inwardly grieves but doesn't tell anyone, not even Marianne, because she had promised Lucy she would keep the secret about the engagement.


Mrs. Jennings decides to take Elinor, Marianne, and Lucy to London to introduce them into society, in hopes of finding them husbands. Once there, Marianne feverishly sends notes to Wiloughby, and gets even more upset when he ignores them. Finally, at a grand party, Marianne sees Wiloughby with his bride-to-be. Wiloughby totally and publicly rejects her, sending her into inconsolable mourning. It seems that Wiloughby has a dastardly secret or two, and needed to marry a woman with money.

Marianne becomes deathly ill, which is upsetting to all who love her, especially Elinor and Colonel Brandon.

The following twists and turns and heart rendering moments that come next build and keep the audience guessing as to what is going to happen next. Will Marianne survive her illness? Who will end up marrying who? How will this story end on a happy, romantic note, despite all the problems and situations presented? Will Fanny and John get their just comeuppance?

This is a romance, and through the hardships and heartbreak, true love and a happy ending will find their way for both the sister who is all sense and the one who is all sensibility.

What a dream cast! Emma Thompson uses her great talent as an actress to show the many sides of Elinor. She expertly and creatively shows the changes Elinor goes through after experiencing the various trials and challenges that confront her along the way. Alan Rickman is convincing as the noble, brave, kind Colonel Brandon, who deeply loves Marianne, but doesn't stand in the way of the love of Marianne and Wiloughby, because Marianne was so happy. Kate Winslet gives an outstanding performance in her portrayal of Marianne Dashwood, who loves poetry, loves music and believes in showing her feelings. Hugh Grant is charming as the bashful, good-hearted, honorable Edward Ferrars who must decide at some point between towing the family line, or doing what is honorable and best for him in the long run. Greg Wise gives a convincing performance as the romantically exciting, witty John Wiloughby. Elizabeth Spriggs is wonderful as the shrewdly observant Mrs. Jennings, who thinks it is her mission in life to help unmarried women find appropriate husbands.

Some say that this film is totally a chick flick, but the gripping romantic, humorous story can be enjoyed, whether you are male or female.

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