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Hands up who loves nothing better than an afternoon in front of a period drama with endless cups of tea and a bumper packet of chocolate digestives? I’m sure not to be the only one with my hand up – we’ve all swooned at Mr Darcy, booed at Mr Wickham and laughed at Mrs Bennet. Jane Austen’s superior satire has lasted through the years to create a raft of excellent adaptations, but here are some similar films for your afternoon delight.
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Director Joe Wright reunited with Keira Knightley two years after Pride & Prejudice to create this adaptation of Ian McEwan’s novel of the same name. The result is a lush, heartbreaking and sprawling tale which launched the careers of all of it’s your stars into the stratosphere. Saoirse Ronan was particularly chilling as the young girl who ruins many lives with a lie. A must-watch.
Director: Joe Wright
Bride & Prejudice (2004)
A modern retelling of our main squeeze, this film takes the take to India and gives it a distinctly Bollywood flavour. We still have four unmarried daughters, and the tale remains largely unchanged. Aishwarya Rai shines as the impossibly gorgeous Lalita, with Martin Henderson as her Mr Darcy. Gurinder Chadha is a fine director and this story is perfectly held in her hands. There’s even a cameo from Ashanti – yep the popstar. Fun!
Director: Gurinder Chadha
Now I know there has been a more recent adaptation of this wonderful rom-com, but this one has got Alan Cumming, Toni Collette and a deliciously idiotic Ewan McGregor in it, so this Emma wins a place on our list. Gwenyth (this candle smells like my foo-foo) Paltrow stars as the match-making heroine, putting every possible foot wrong and causing havoc. She learns her lesson, of course, and we get a good old giggle along the way. The costumes and locations are divine, this is light and easy fare, or as I like to call it – brain massage.
Director: Douglas McGrath
Jane Eyre (2011)
If, like me, the whole Bond thing is passing you by a bit, why not opt for Cary Fukanaga’ earlier work, with this adaptation of the Brontë classic. Jane Eyre is one of the finest heroines of literature, and she shines brightly here as played by Mia Wasikowska. The tale of a governess who falls for her student’s damaged and brooding Father, as played by Michael Fassbender. How could we ask for anything more?
Director: Cary Fukanaga
Lady Macbeth (2016)
If you think you know costume drama, think again. Florence Pugh exploded into our hearts and onto our screens with a mesmerising performance as a young wife, trapped in a loveless marriage to an older man. She rebels in the best way, through an affair with a hot young farmhand. Of course, it’s never that easy and thing go from bad to bloody murder pretty quickly. It’s a simply written, acted and directed film that entirely comes together and is sublime.
Director: William Oldroyd
I couldn’t possibly talk about movies like Pride & Prejudice without this adaptation of arguably Jane Austen’s finest novel. This tale of a woman who has regrets, and finds a second chance at love is a more sober, slow story than that of Elizabeth Bennett. Yet Anne Elliott is a fine heroine, thoughtful and downtrodden in a way that feels realistic. The 1995 Amanad Root/Ciarán Hinds BBC movie is a special kind of wonderful. Who knew Mr Hinds was so swoon-worthy in his younger days? Certainly not me….
Director: Roger Michell
Bright Star (2009)
Any regular readers of my blogs will know that I am a HUGE Campion fangirl, and proud. This film tells a love story about the poet John Keats and his wonderfully named admirer Fanny Brawne. (I may actually change my name by deed poll) The film does not claim to be exact in it’s historical detail, but it is a beautiful portrait of forbidden love. And we know Campion films are always worth it.
Director: Jane Campion
The Age of Innocence (1994)
Oh HELLO, big sexy American take on historical romantic drama. This is an adaptation of an Edith Wharton novel and stars…wait for it – Winona Ryder, Michelle Pfeiffer and Daniel Day-Lewis. It sounds almost preposterous to say it now, but these were the glorious early 90s. Newland Archer is a staid and sensible lawyer who does the very un-sensible thing of falling in love with his fiancee’s scandalous cousin. What more do we need to know?
Director: Martin Scorcese
A Room with a View (1985)
This is the film which ends with not only one of the MOST romantic kisses in all of screen history, but also features Maggie Smith’s delectable elocution… Lucy is pronounced Liu-sey, don’t you know? A stellar cast led by Helena Bonham Carter and also includes Judi Dench and Denholm Elliott. The film revolves around innocent and angelic Lie-sey as she travels in Italy and finds romance unexpectedly….much to the horror of her Aunt. The scandal! The corsets! The poppy field! I swoon.
Director: James Ivory
The Remains of the Day (1993)
An adaptation of the Kazuo Ishuguro’s novel of the same name, this film is one of the most heart-wrenching love stories ever committed to film. It stars Emma Thompson and Antony Hopkins, which frankly is reason enough for me to watch anything… and this film exceeds all the expectations of this combination. Hopkins plays a repressed butler who falls for an outspoken housekeeper but can’t declare his feelings or act upon them. It may not sound like a huge movie but I promise, it will have you on your knees.
Director: James Ivory
I hope there is enough proper old-fashioned romance in here to keep you going in the age of swiping right. Maybe we could even learn a thing or two…?
Have you seen any or all of the films on this list – do you have a favourite?! Which films would you recommend? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave us a comment on our socials.
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