Amazing Adaptations! – Scents and Sensibility

Wow.  Just … wow.

Why did anyone think this was a good idea?

Sense and Sensibility was always going to be one of the harder Austen novels to adopt to a modern era.  With Mansfield Park you get the class aspect, with Pride and Prejudice you get the lovely snark and humor, and no one who saw Clueless can argue that Emma doesn’t translate.

In order to explain away the entailment and the “putting out of unwanted female relatives” that begins the action of Sense and Sensibility, the writers of Scents transformed Mr. Dashwood into a Madoff-esque villain.  This in turn makes Eleanor and Marianne, once teenagers and victims of circumstance, into startlingly naive women in their 20s (especially Eleanor, who we are supposed to believe served as an investment supervisor in her father’s firm without any inkling that it was a scam).

Marianne has a long distance boyfriend, John Willoughby, who runs around behind her back and causes problems in her burgeoning romance with Brandon, a marketing exec who falls for her despite her inability to collate.

Edward Ferris is a patent attorney whose sister Fanny runs the salon where down-and-out Eleanor is a custodian. Lucy Steele is her assistant manager.  This story-line occasionally bordered on clever, but lost me when Fanny’s “contacts” were supposed to analyze Marianne’s magic lotion (the titular Scents) within 24 hours.

Willoughby is a scoundrel and, with a little blackmail, helps Fanny steal the lotion’s secrets.  Oh no!  How will our heroines ever win the day.

They do, of course, despite Marianne’s stupidity, Eleanor’s un-suspicious good nature (in my mind the most serious departure from the original text), and the boys’ general lack of charisma.

The truly extraordinary aspect of the movie is the fact that it recorded during a viewer’s choice broadcast on New Year’s Eve.  Apparently there were other options, but this lovely travesty still took a top spot.

Overall: An excellent effort from the Lifetime Movie Network that would be panned anywhere else.

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