Jane Austen has been adapted to the screen umpteenth times. The reason has more to do with people’s fantasy of having the one true romance rather than the author’s relatable approach to stories about women, but one can’t dismiss the pull they have. Consequently, Netflix’s latest period drama, “Persuasion” finds Dakota Johnson essaying the role of Anne – the smartest and most self-aware person in the Elliot family.
The film chronicles her life from the point when his father has to face the load of debt crushing over his estate. The family is forced to rent out their humble abode and move to Bath, while Annie’s life takes a turn when her long-lost love; one whom she still reminiscences and regrets about leaving to this day – returns.
Including themes of finding the one true love at the right time and being a true feminist in an era where everyone is just ready to marry you to the next suitor, I have collected an array of double-bill choices that include movies and tv shows that you can watch if you happen to dig Persuasion on Netflix.
1. Clueless (1995)
I know it’s awfully cheeky of me to start this list with a film that isn’t a period drama, but since Jane Austen is in question, how can we forget this modern-day adaptation of her infamous book “Emma.” Chronicling the life of Cher (Alicia Silverstone) a high-schooler who fashions herself as some kind of matchmaker, Clueless offers a smart and satirical look at high school movies and the shallow nature of being rich.
While Annie in Persuasion isn’t exactly a selfish person like Cher, the similarities between them start right there. The two people are so consumed in the lives of the people around them, that they have hardly any time to do something about their own. If you like Persuasion, Clueless is one of those movies that will repel and pull you back into it post its first 30 odd minutes.
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2. Notting Hill (1999)
Second on the list is another modern-day rom-com, but if Austen isn’t synonyms with romantic comedies, I wonder what is? Notting Hill instantly comes to mind when you think about love affairs that have everything perfect about them but still couldn’t come together full circle.
Much like Persuasion, the relationship at the center of Notting Hill is perfect. Two beautiful people fall for each other and yet due to one person’s social stature, they can’t make it work. Like Persuasion; where Annie deliberately brings her out of a relationship only to live the rest of the following decade reminiscing about it, Notting Hill finds Julia Robert’s Anna Scott finding the courage to reach her William Thacker (Hugh Grant).
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3. Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)
Based on Helen Fielding’s 1996 novel of the same name, Bridget Jones’s Diary finds a place here because it is simply Jane Austen decluttered. Following the life of Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger), a 32-year-old woman who self-imposes and self-depreciates her behavior as she pens her life down, Sharon Maguire’s film, much like Persuasion is a movie about choosing between two seemingly perfect suitors.
Suitor jealousy and the almost fourth wall-breaking convention of Bridget Jone’s Diary have made it such an iconic women-centric film, that, in spite of how problematic it can sound in 2022, it is still a great double-bill with almost everything that has a love triangle in the works. To add to that, it is one of those movies that, much like Persuasion on Netflix is about a clueless woman trying to understand what way to take in life.
4. Pride & Prejudice (2005)
And finally to an out-and-out Jane Austen adaptation, the 2005 “Pride & Prejudice” is possibly the only film in this list that uses its period setting to tell a timeless story about love. Much like Persuasion, the film features a family with 5 women and their tryst with love, marriage, and the various misconceptions that they have been told about since the day they were born.
Focused on Elizabeth Bennet (Keira Knightley) and her love/hate interest Mr. Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen), the film focuses on love and the prospect of living in its shadow. Much like Persuasion, the movie focuses on landscape and period through minute detail. It also helps that Wright’s sly humor makes Pride & Prejudice a perfect movie to watch along with the Dakota Johnson starrer.
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5. Far From the Madding Crowd (2015)
Now, Far From the Madding Crowd isn’t particularly a romantic comedy but I still recommend it because, like Anne, Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) is a rather smart woman in a time when men were the only ones who had any kind of agency. Confused about love or running and being the boss of the life she has built for herself, both Persuasion and Thomas Vinterberg’s film feature headstrong women.
Lying bare its feminist inclination, Far From The Madding Crowd follows Bathsheba as she struggles to decide between three suitors as a companion. Trying to quench the passion in her life and the loneliness in her heart, the film, much like Netflix’s Persuasion feels like a reworking of an era where smart women did not have a place in stories.
6. Fleabag (2016 – 2019)
Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s award-winning play, later turned into an award-winning show, is a whiff smart, witty, and gloriously engaging story about a young woman living in the midst of London, trying to balance her love life with a tragedy that has hit her like a sledgehammer.
Constantly juggling between daily interaction with a self-deprecating, fourth-wall-breaking protagonist and giving out simplistic, humanist metaphors about love, life, and everything in between, Persuasion’s Anne is a definite lift from Fleabag. To add to that, it is about a woman who can’t seem to fix herself or the love life that she so dearly wants to kickstart.
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7. Love & Friendship (2016)
The similarities between Whit Stillman’s Love & Friendship and Persuasion don’t begin with their humor, but with the similarities in their premise. Both Persuasion and Love & Friendship actually begin when the woman at their center take temporary residence in a place that is not their home.
Love & Friendship follows Lady Susan Vernon who becomes some kind of matchmaker for both herself and her daughter Frederica (Morfydd Clark). Unafraid to revel in the problematic character it wants to champion, Stillman’s period piece is a cunning, smart, and lovely look at finding things in places we least bother about.
8. Dickinson (2019 – 2021)
Much like Persuasion, the Apple TV+ show “Dickinson” is set in the 19th century. While the show literally follows Emily Dickinson, the renowned English poet, Annie is a clever woman who also likes poetry, to an extent where she asks a fine gentleman to intake poetry in pre-checked dosage.
The show, much like the Netflix movie Persuasion focuses on society, gender, and most importantly the family’s intrusive nature in one’s life. While Dakota Johnson’s Annie is held on corners by an overbearing set of sisters and an overspending father, Hailee Steinfeld’s Emily is rebellious to outsmart every single person in plain sight.
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9. Emma. (2020)
The reason why I have chosen the 2020 version of “Emma” instead of the 1996 one is just to show how subtly and cleverly director and costume designer Autumn de Wilde updates it for modern sensibilities. Making it more common thematically, as well as narrative-wise to Persuasion.
Again following the titular woman who makes it her life’s aim to fix every possible match she can see with her naked eyes, Emma. is a story that focuses on the intrusive nature of its protagonist by reworking Jane Austen’s period drama. In the lure, it becomes a coming-of-age tale about knowing and dwelling on the love that stays within arm’s length.
PERSUASION IS NOW STREAMING ON NETFLIX. STREAM IT HERE