Modern Persuasion Parent Guide
It is a truth universally acknowledged that good material doesn’t automatically result in a good movie.
Parent Movie Review
Wren Cosgrove (Alicia Witt) is flustered. The PR professional has a meeting with a new potential client, who just happens to be her ex-boyfriend. The two were a couple in university, until Wren’s beloved aunt (Bebe Neuwirth) persuaded her to break up and focus on her career. Now Owen Jesper (Shane McRae) is a tech millionaire with a charitable giving app that needs a splashy roll-out. Wren’s not sure how she feels about seeing him again, but the other women in the office are plenty excited, and it looks like Owen is happy to meet them…
Modern Persuasion is a contemporary adaptation of Jane Austen’s 19th century novel, Persuasion, which has earned lasting popularity for its depiction of steadfast love and second chances. As with all Austen novels, it’s written with keen insight, snappy dialogue, and delicious irony. Modern Persuasion, sadly, lacks the nuance and skill that lift the novel above the level of paint-by-number romances. It is a truth universally acknowledged that good material doesn’t automatically result in a good movie.
So what’s gone wrong with Modern Persuasion? I’m going to have to begin with the acting, particularly Shane McRae, who signally fails to be a swoon-worthy romantic lead. It’s not that he’s unattractive or stumbles through his lines; it’s that he seems to lack any kind of emotional life. I don’t know if this is his way of looking reserved and conflicted, but it just comes across as uninterested. And as for Alicia Witt, I need to take the wardrobe department to task. Adequate though her performance may be, she often seems to have trouble walking in her heels (too high for her perhaps?) and has a hit-and-miss wardrobe that is occasionally ill-fitting. Wardrobe errors are a rookie problem and indicate basic quality control issues with the movie.
Regarding the script, it feels unfair to compare it to the source material, but if you’re going to adapt Austen, you have to make sure you’re up to the task. Modern Persuasion can’t boast Austen’s rapier wit, but it manages occasional laughs. It also delivers a message about self esteem that most women will appreciate. When Wren is bemoaning her failures with Owen, a friend tells her that she’s looking at the relationship the wrong way: “You should be deciding whether he’s good enough for you. He would be lucky to have you and if he can’t figure that out…good riddance.”
As for content issues, the movie comes with some sexual innuendo (gay and straight) and frequent scenes of social drinking that include main characters getting drunk. It’s rated PG, but I think the sexual innuendo pushes it into PG-13 territory. That said, it fits within the range of the romance movies you’ll find on the Hallmark Channel. It’s got a similar made-for-tv vibe, equivalent set quality, and the same level of acting. If Hallmark romance movies are your jam, get out your carb of choice and settle down with Modern Persuasion. But if you’re expecting Austen, you’re in for a disappointment.Directed by Alex Appel, Jonathan Lisecki. Starring Alicia Witt, Bebe Neuwirth Shane McRae. Running time: 87 minutes. Theatrical release December 11, 2020. Updated February 26, 2021
Watch the trailer for Modern Persuasion
Rating & Content Info
Why is Modern Persuasion rated PG? Modern Persuasion is rated PG by the MPAA
b>Violence: A woman falls and breaks her leg.
Sexual Content: Brief mention of an orgy. A lesbian couple are expecting a baby. A woman jokes about creating a lesbian dating app. Slang terms for sex are used occasionally. Women are seen in scanty bikinis. Women wear reveal low cut dresses. A pregnant woman gushes amniotic fluid on the floor. Reference to handcuffs in a sexual context. Two women kiss. A man dips and kisses a woman. There is a vague discussion of male sexual performance.
Profanity: There are a couple of anatomical curses and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Main characters get drunk at a bar. Employees celebrate with alcohol at the office. Main characters drink alcohol at a party: a woman is described as “tipsy”. Main characters drink wine in a restaurant.
Page last updated February 26, 2021
Modern Persuasion Parents' Guide
What keeps Wren and Owen apart? How would the story differ if they had better communication skills?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
You can always start with Persuasion by Jane Austen. Carrie Bebris imagines a Regency mystery featuring the characters from Persuasion as well as a visiting Mr. and Mrs. Darcy in The Deception at Lyme.