Sense and Sensibility

Critics Consensus

Sense and Sensibility is an uncommonly deft, very funny Jane Austen adaptation, marked by Emma Thompson's finely tuned performance.



Total Count: 59


Audience Score

User Ratings: 130,761
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Movie Info

In this costume drama, based on the novel by Jane Austen, Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters are left with almost nothing after Mr. Dashwood's death. They move into a cottage and sensible eldest daughter Elinor attempts to keep things running smoothly, in spite of her free-spirited sister's efforts to the contrary.

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Emma Thompson
as Elinor Dashwood
Kate Winslet
as Marianne Dashwood
Hugh Grant
as Edward Ferrars
Alan Rickman
as Col. Brandon
James Fleet
as John Dashwood
Harriet Walter
as Fanny Dashwood
Gemma Jones
as Mrs. Dashwood
Emile Francois
as Margaret Dashwood
Elizabeth Spriggs
as Mrs. Jennings
Greg Wise
as John Willoughby
Emilie François
as Margaret Dashwood
Imogen Stubbs
as Lucy Steele
Robert Hardy
as Sir John Middleton
Imelda Staunton
as Charlotte Palmer
Hugh Laurie
as Mr. Palmer
Richard Lumsden
as Robert Ferrars
Tom Wilkinson
as Mr. Dashwood
Lone Vidahl
as Miss Grey
Oliver Ford Davies
as Doctor Harris
Eleanor McCready
as Mrs. Bunting
Josephine Gradwell
as Maid to Mrs. Jennings
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Critic Reviews for Sense and Sensibility

All Critics (59) | Top Critics (17)

Audience Reviews for Sense and Sensibility

  • Jan 22, 2016
    It is hard to believe anybody gets happily married in 19th century England with all the rules and customs. Jane Austen writes interesting books, and the actors in this adaptation are very convincing.
    Red L Super Reviewer
  • Jul 24, 2013
    Before there was "Price and Prejudice", there was "Sense and Sensibility", so I reckon Jane Austen was pretty big into catchy titles with "and" in them early on in her career, as surely as Kate Winslet was pretty big into coming-of-age period dramas early on in her career. I don't know about you people, but I got pretty nervous watching this film, as Winslet was fresh off of the set of the period psychological thriller "Heavenly Creatures", and you know what we got in that coming-of-age opus: ...a really bad movie. Winslet's character was pretty crazy in that film, and Peter Jackson was probably even crazier for making the film, but hey, at least this film is decent, which I reckon means that the more overlong and British the period drama featuring Kate Winslet is, the better it ends up being, as Winselt would go on to remind us in that awesome, four-hour-long and outstandingly British "Hamlet" in '96. Well, then again, "Titanic" is easily her best film, and the closest James Cameron has come to being British is being raised in a place that has a province called British Columbia, and plus, I don't see how this film can get any more British, as it's based on a Jane Austen book, is written by and stars Emma Thompson, also features Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant and Tom Wilkinson, and is directed by... some Taiwanese dude. Hey, the next film interpretation of "Sense and Sensibility" was some Indian musical, so I guess this book is pretty popular in Asia, but then again, "Kandukondain Kandukondain" is a loose adaptation of this novel, much like most every other post-1995 interpretation of "Sense and Sensibility", so this novel couldn't be too popular, or else it would have been adapted, like, 87 times like every other popular, classic dramatic novel of this nature. Hey, this film was such a hit that maybe people didn't want to touch the novel upon which it's based anymore because they knew they could never hope to top it. Ang Lee knows how to get things done, except maybe when it comes to "Hulk", though I can't say that I'm nearly as crazy about this film as everyone else seems to be, and quite a few reasons. This type of period drama's is a formula that has been done to death throughout the years, and although we've kind of gotten a bit used to it over time, and although there are some relatively refreshing beats to this particular effort, there's no ignoring the conventionalism to this paint-by-numbers coming-of-age period drama dealing with a young lady trying to defy tradition to take the hand of a man she feels genuine love for, nor is there any denying that this film takes a bit too long of a time to tell such a familiar story. I suppose this film's subject matter warrants something of a hefty length, as there have been decidedly lengthier interpretations of Jane Austen's three-volume lady drama "epic", yet whether it be from the lengthy source material or from Emma Thompson's pen, there is much fat around the edges, and they guide the final product to its 136-minute length through aimless filler and repetition that are detrimental to pacing enough of paper, clean of Ange Lee's questionable atmospheric influences. As often as I have been impressed with Lee's storytelling, he has a tendency to incorporate into his film the type of dryness this very formal drama apparently demands, and sure, Lee has proven that he has the impressive ability to put such atmospheric limpness to very good use, yet the fact of the matter is that this film, on top of being bloated, gets to be chilled quiet meandering spells that prove to be bland more often than not, and sometimes prove to be downright dull. There's enough cleverness to Lee's usage of the atmosphere to keep things from getting all that boring, but the quiet coldness in this film proves to be about as supplementary to the limp pacing as it proves to be complimentary to the dry color of this formal fluff piece, which could have stood as rewarding through all of its limp spells if it wasn't so much of what I just said it is: a fluff piece. Nevermind the conventionalism of a story of this type, Austen's source material just doesn't have a whole lot of meat or consequence to its conflicts, being sharp and all, but with too much minimalism for it to appear to be something that could easily be made into the rewarding opus that this film is sadly not sharp enough to be. That being said, the film is carried almost to a rewarding state on the shoulders of endearing charm, backed by plenty of genuinely commendable strengths, but you're given too much to think about the natural shortcomings of this minimalist and formulaic drama by overdrawn cold spells for underwhelmingness to be kept at bay. Regardless, the final product is quite enjoyable, being seriously flawed, but competent enough areas to entertain adequately, and do so with a tastefulness that can even be found clear as day within the musical aspects. I've always found Patrick Doyle to be a rather underappreciated and excellent score composer who may not boast too much originality to his musical visions, but has an exceptional classical style that breathes a lot of life into his projects, including this one, for although the many quiet spells of this film silence Doyle's efforts in more places than it should, when the music finally kicks back in, it's hard not to be particularly engrossed, as Doyle bonds very 19th century elegance and relatively modernist fluffiness within a thoroughly colorful classical score that proves to be hauntingly beautiful and highly complimentary to the establishment of a feel for the era portrayed in this classical period piece. Needless to say, an even more recurring and thorough component to the immersion value of this period piece is Philip Elton's and Andrew Sanders' exceptional art direction, which, with the help of Luciana Arrighi's intricate production designs and Jenny Beavan's and John Bright's costume designs, restores the Georgian era of England with a subtly detailed eye that catches your eye and thrusts you into a distinguished world, but not without being down-to-earth enough to thoroughly convince. Very tasteful and clever with its celebration of lovely music and lively production value, this fairly well-produced film is at least rewarding on an artistic level, immersing you into the setting of this period piece, while the acting helps in immersing you into the depths of the more human aspects of this drama. There is, of course, very little in the way of heavy dramatic material for this talented cast to play with, and without that kind of acting demand which keeps the performers alert, acting in films of this nature usually fail to hold enough inspiration for you to look at the characters as anything more than types, yet in this case, while the performances aren't outstanding, most everyone makes sure to make his or her character particularly memorable through colorfully distinguished charisma that sells you on the characters, while excellent chemistry sells you on the relationships that define the characters and their story. Disregarding the occasional emotionally powered dramatic note, the performers aren't exactly able to anchor the dramatic punch that could have made this film truly rewarding, but they do carry many aspects of this fairly human character piece, though cannot be enough to bring the final product close to a rewarding level. What truly secures the considerable decency and borderline bona fide goodness of this film, is, of course, the storytelling, or at least the highlights within the formulaic, overlong and dry storytelling, such as a cleverness to Emma Thompson's score that captures the wit of Jane Austen's classic novel, but settles down the romanticism enough for you to connect a bit to the sharp dialogue and humor, often in an amusing way, resulting in a fair degree of color that director Ang Lee augments, at least up to a point, as his dry atmosphere all too often blands things up, but is just as often appropriate enough for a formal fluff piece of this type for you to soak up the cold color that defines the endearing charm of this period drama. If the film is nothing else, it is thoroughly charming, and while that's certainly not enough to make a strong film, it certainly deserves credit for bringing the film close to a rewarding state, joining tasteful artistic value and good acting in making the final product reasonably entertaining, if improvable. Overall, the film tells a formulaic tale, and does so in an overlong, repetitious fashion that is made all the more relatively grating by a bland atmospheric dryness which leaves you to meditate upon the inconsequentiality of this drama, which ultimately sputters out as underwhelming, but just barely, being supported enough by a loveliness to music, immersive intricacy to cinematography, charisma to acting, and dry color to sharp writing and direction for Ang Lee's "Sense and Sensibility" to stand as a pretty enjoyable, if held back interpretation of a Jane Austen classic. 2.75/5 - Decent
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Sep 25, 2012
    I have to acknowledge the good work here by Thompson and Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman..and all the rest of them but nothing from a Jane Austen novel is going to be high on my charts. Frankly my dear, I don't give much of a damn
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Dec 28, 2010
    A faithful adaptation, especially in tone, of Austen's enjoyable novel. Even though not a remarkable story, it benefits mostly from great performances by Thompson and Winslet, in a visually enchanting period drama that combines well romance and humor.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer

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