Netflix’s Persuasion might have bombed with critics and earned the ire of loyal Jane Austen fans, but that hasn’t stopped the Dakota Johnson movie from becoming one of the most-watched movies on the streaming service in the week since its July 15 release. If you were charmed by the film’s unconventional take on Austen’s last completed novel, check out one of these movies, which also offer twists on the famous author’s celebrated books.
Pride & Prejudice gets a modern, LGBTQ-centered update in director Andrew Anh’s 2022 rom-com Fire Island. Joel Kim Booster (who also wrote the screenplay) takes on the Lizzie Bennett role as Noah, who spars with and then falls for the uptight Will (Conrad Ricamora) while he and his friends spend a week on New York’s Fire Island. It’s streaming on Hulu.
‘Bride and Prejudice’
Another spin on Austen’s most popular novel, the 2004 movie Bride & Prejudice trades Regency-era gowns for Bollywood spectacle. Lalita Bakshi (Aishwarya Rai) isn’t impressed when she meets wealthy American hotel owner Will Darcy (Virgin River’s Martin Henderson) at a wedding, and her dislike grows when she realizes he’s interfered in her sister’s romance with his friend Balraj (Naveen Andrews). Meanwhile, her parents are pressuring her and her four sisters to find appropriately well-off husbands, much to the independently-minded Lalita’s dismay. Streaming on Starz.
‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’
Perennially single 30something Bridget Jones (Renée Zellwegger) vows to turn her life around after she overhears the snobbish lawyer Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) insulting her at a party. (He calls her a “verbally incontinent spinster who drinks like a fish, smokes like a chimney, and dresses like her mother.” Ouch.) Along the way she has an affair with her caddish boss (Hugh Grant), lands a new job, and (eventually) realizes that Mark was the right guy for her all along in this updated take on Pride & Prejudice. Streaming on HBO Max.
Patricia Rozema’s 1999 adaptation of Mansfield Park focuses on Fanny Price (Frances O’Connor), a poor relative who is taken in by the wealthy Bertram family as a child. The movie tweaks Austen’s original story in several key ways. It mixes in elements of the author’s own life, changes the nature of Fanny’s character, and incorporates pointed criticism of the slave trade that made the Bertram family rich. Available for rent on Amazon, YouTube, iTunes, and other platforms.
‘Love & Friendship’
Whit Stillman (whose debut film Metropolitan nods to Mansfield Park) fleshes out Austen’s brief epistolary novel Lady Susan in Love & Friendship. The 2016 movie stars Kate Beckinsale as the sly, manipulative Susan, an impoverished widow determined to snag a wealthy husband for both herself and her daughter. It’s funnier and less romantic than some other Austen adaptations, but no less entertaining. Streaming on Prime Video.
‘Pride & Prejudice & Zombies’
Lizzie Bennett (Lily James) and Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley) team up to fight the undead who are ravishing the English countryside in this 2016 horror-comedy. The Crown’s Matt Smith plays Lizzie’s hilariously awkward suitor Mr. Collins. Jack Huston plays the duplicitous Mr. Wickham, who thinks he can use the zombie apocalypse to further his own ambitions. It’s based on Seth Grahame-Smith’s 2009 parody novel of the same name. You can rent it on Prime Video, iTunes, YouTube, and other platforms.
Clueless brilliantly updates Austen’s story of a self-assured young woman who can’t help but meddle in other people’s love lives. Director Amy Heckerling shifts the action to a high school in Beverly Hills in the 1990s and turns Emma into Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone), a spoiled but well-meaning teen. Cher learns a lesson about the peril of makeovers and matchmaking when her plan to set up the “tragically unhip” Tai (Brittany Murphy) with a fellow student named Elton (Jeremy Sisto) backfires in a big way. Streaming on Prime Video.
For more on the entertainment world and exclusive interviews, subscribe to Showbiz Cheat Sheet’s YouTube channel.