Thursday, May 26, 2011

From Prada to Nada: Sense & Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge Update

Back in April I belatedly signed up for the challenge to focus my Austen-only eyes on her first published novel, Sense and Sensibility, in honor of the 200th year since its first publication.

Here's what I committed to and how I'm doing...

☑ Reread Sense and Sensibility
☑ Read The Three Weissmans of Westport, by Cathleen Schine
☑ Rewatch the Ang Lee adaptation, aka the Emma Thompson adaptation
☐ Rewatch the 2008 BBC adaptation
☐ Watch I have Found it (Kandukondain Kandukondain)
☑ Watch From Prada to Nada
☐ Reread Sense and Sensibility: The Screenplay and Diaries
☐ Read Sense and Sensibility (Marvel Illustrated)
☐ Read Willoughby’s Return, by Jane Odiwe
☑ Write S&S-inspired short story for the Jane Austen Made Me Do It competition
☐ Attend the 2011 JASNA AGM in Fort Worth in October

I watched the Emma Thompson/Ang Lee adaptation after finishing a reread of the novel in the spring, and enjoyed it as usual. Also as usual, I still found myself gnashing my teeth over Thompson's exclusion of the Willoughby visit to Cleveland near the end of the book. It is a crucial scene in my opinion, and the movie is flawed for omitting it.

I am looking forward to getting my copy of Thompson's Sense and Sensibility: The Screenplay and Diaries back from the JASNA friend to whom I lent it and reading it over the summer.

In May, I watched From Prada to Nada. When I first heard about this movie, I was pretty excited about it--I tend to like LA Latino movies (e.g., Tortilla Soup) and felt that the plot line had potential in a modern adaptation. Then my teenaged daughters heard that I wanted to see it and gave me all sorts of grief about how silly it looked. But, I had made a commitment to the Challenge gods, and so rented it from NetFlix.

I have to say it was kinda fun. I absolutely love the song, Cielito Lindo, which was featured early in the movie, so I spent the week after watching the movie humming the song. My favorite version of the song is that by The Three Tenors. Unfortunately, for most people my age, it will be forever associated with Fritos corn chips, since it was the jingle theme music during our formative years.

Back to the movie, as is typical in these modern retellings of S&S, the Elinor character is a stick-in-the-mud, beauty-behind-glasses and the Marianne character is a flighty, shallow, narcissistic knock-out. The Edward character was a rather cute lawyer with typical Edward dithering, his sister was an over-the-top gold-digging bitch, and the John Dashwood character was a long-lost (or rather recently found) brother who turned out not that bad after all.

My favorite character was the Colonel Brandon character, who was a barrio artiste who definitely outshone the Willoughby professor character from our first encounter. Strong, silent, and sensitive, he champions Marianne throughout and definitely was the romantic lead, leaving Edward in the usual.

My second favorite character was the girls' aunt with whom they go to live when thrown out of their father's house after death--she plays the Mrs. Jennings and Sir John Middleton part collectively and was earthy, practical, maternal, and family.

What I ended up liking about this movie is the theme of family--embracing one's roots and celebrating life together. I'm not sure it's a theme I necessarily associate with S&S itself, but it ended up making From Prada to Nada work.

From Prada to Nada didn't have the script that Clueless had and won't have the staying power in the hearts of Janeites, but in this year of S&S, it is definitely worth watching...if only to be reminded of what a pretty song Cielito Lindo is.


  1. I read Sense and Sensibility last year and I noticed that the scene was glaringly missing from a movie I really adore. I agree that Emma Thompson should have included that in her screenplay. Or did she and it ended up on the cutting room floor? I have the script from the film. I should look through it and see if it's there. =O)

  2. I've not heard of From Prada to Nada, but it sounds worth watching.

  3. And have you registered for the Ft. Worth AGM?? I've received my confirmation and I can't wait! I hope to see you there!

  4. Yet to see this Jane, but your review is encouraging. I must rent it from Netflix too. It would be very hard to surpass Clueless in my estimation, so I am not expecting much and will just enjoy it for a fun lark in Austenland.

  5. So Prada to Nada is a Romantic comedy that has “chick flick” written all over it but both me and my wife really liked it for the fact that it wasn’t laden with as much sex and violence as other movies today. The search for true character and what really matters in this world was a great theme. I (and everyone else) has the opportunity to watch a lot of movies right now (and I do) because I got a 3 month free Blockbuster membership with my new DISH Network employee account. Honestly I should slow down because I’m not getting anything else done these days, like mowing the grass. Pretty soon my toddler won’t be able to be seen in it any more.

  6. Actually, I was so sure I wouldn't like it that... I was really surprised when I happened to like it quite a lot!
    I also saw it for my Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge and reviewed this film on My Jane Austen Book Club.
    It's always a pleasure to read your reviews!

  7. It wasn't the most amazing thing ever, but I really liked how they updated the Marianne/Col.Brandon relationship. I thought they did a good job of making it believable that a modern Marianne would write off Brandon as a possible love interest.