Jane Austen novels tend to transition to film fairly well, but especially well when the screenplay is well written. Sense and Sensibility, the classic Austen novel that follows the lives of three sisters, was brought to the big screen by Oscar winner Emma Thompson (Wit) and directed by Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon).
In the original story, Sense and Sensibility begins with a wealthy man suddenly dying, leaving his entire estate to his only son from his first marriage which leaves his second wife and three daughters Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret practically destitute. Initially the son promises to care for his step-family, but is soon swayed by his greedy wife to ignore their financial plight. Soon, the four women are forced to find a new home, and rent a cottage in another part of the country. Despite being intelligent and beautiful, the two eligible sisters new monetary status leaves much to be desired in the way of marriage and they worry that they will never be able to marry.
As we follow their adventures, we get to know the two older girls better. Elinor, the oldest, is the "sensible" one, always practical and sometimes afraid to follow her heart. Marianne is fun-loving and somewhat flighty, an enormous romantic but also extremely kind and intelligent. As we watch the young women grow emotionally and experience love and disappointment, we hope as fervently as they do that they find a love as pure as both of their innocent hearts.
As is true with all Ang Lee films, Sense and Sensibility is a beautiful film to watch. The English countryside is gorgeous and lush, and the period costumes are fun and authentic. The dialogue is witty, amusing, and the film moves much faster than other Jane Austen adaptations. The movie is also well cast, including Emma Thompson (Elinor), Kate Winslet (Marianne), Hugh Grant, and Alan Rickman (Professor Snape in the Harry Potter movies).