Persuasions mixed reviews are calling the Netflix movie “vaguely mortifying” and a “sweet distraction”

Persuasion, the Netflix adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel, is out in selected cinemas today before it arrives on the streamer next week – and the reviews are in. 

The movie sees Dakota Johnson star as Anne Elliot, a young woman living with her snobby family who are on the brink of bankruptcy. She may only be 27, but this is the 19th Century, and therefore she’s on the brink of spinsterhood, mourning the lost love of Frederick Wentworth (Cosmo Jarvis), a man her family persuaded her not to marry eight years before. That is, until he reappears in her life. The cast also includes Henry Golding, Richard E. Grant, Suki Waterhouse, Nikki Amuka-Bird, and Mia McKenna-Bruce.

The movie was helmed by theatre director Carrie Cracknell in her feature debut and she’s put a modern twist on the adaption, despite keeping its Regency setting. But what do the critics make of Persuasion? 

The Independent (opens in new tab)

“At no point during Carrie Cracknell’s directorial debut do you ever get the sense that anyone’s actually read Persuasion. For those with even the slightest affinity for Austen’s work, it’s vaguely mortifying to watch – seeing one of her most beautifully moulded protagonists, a sorrowful vessel hounded by the ghosts of lost love, stripped of her poetry and reduced to an Instagram caption about the pitfalls of millennial dating.”

The Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab)

“From the minute the trailer dropped, the Austenite gatekeepers were crying sacrilege, and sure, this will rankle lovers of the novel. But it’s a movie that knows exactly what it’s doing, using its source as a baseline rather than an unyielding blueprint, with a star ideally chosen to navigate its century-crossing gambit. She’s a woman susceptible to persuasion but ultimately driven by her own sense of agency. Approached as a free-standing rom-com only loosely tethered to its origins, the film is a sweet distraction.”

The Guardian (opens in new tab)

“Jane Austen’s calm, subtle novel gets the Fleabag treatment in this smirking romcom; it has more wrong notes than an inebriated squadron of harpists, including everything but a last-minute rush in a barouche to Bath airport. Our demure protagonist Anne Elliot is forever doing supercilious takes and wry monologues to camera, taking despairing swigs from a bottle of red wine in private, occasionally nursing a quirky pet rabbit, and at the end (unforgivably) gives us a wink to seal the deal of our adoringly complicit approval.”

IndieWire (opens in new tab)

“This Persuasion does indeed have plenty of modern, chatty flourishes (yes, Anne does tell us she’s “single and thriving,” and later does refer to her hunky unrequited love as her “ex”), and it features a number of positively Bridget Jones-esque sequences that see Anne crying, drinking, crying, drinking, etc., but they all serve one essential purpose: to get us inside Anne’s heart. Lauded playwright Cracknell wanted to loosen up this Austen, and that means everything from literally undoing Anne’s hair and unfussing her clothes, to also figuratively bringing the audience closer to her by treating her like, well, any sort of woman.”

iNews (opens in new tab)

“Persuasion is neither silly nor serious enough. It is in thrall to Bridgerton, with a colour-blind cast and superficially feminist values, but never goes quite as big. It has none of the sex and fleshy exuberance, nor the outlandish costumes, preferring instead a low-key look of genteel poverty and a focus on domestic life. Like Austen’s books in fact, except that its absurd dialogue (“It is often said if you’re a five in London, you’re a ten in Bath!”) and quippy breaking of the fourth wall jar horribly with this muted aesthetic.”

Persuasion arrives on the streamer on July 15. While we wait, check out our picks of the best Netflix movies that you can watch right now.

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