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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, Portland, OR

Thursday, January 27, 2011

From Prada to Nada

Apropos the recently begun group reading of S&S, I was fortunate to hear about, and then attend, with some of my new Janeite friends whom I met via my Austen event on Sunday, an advance screening in Miami of the new Austen spinoff chickflick, From Prada to Nada.

I went with low expectations, and was pleasantly surprised. On its own unpretentious terms, it was a sweet, fast-paced, and at times touching modern version of S&S, which did not even pretend to be a veiled commentary on Austen's novel--it would best be described as "inspired by" S&S, given that pretty much all of the major characters, and the course of their relationships, are significantly different--mostly in the direction of simplification of JA's wonderful complexities--from that of S&S, even as it is immediately obvious who the characters represent from S&S--the only one I had an Alzheimer's Moment about was the Brandon character, whom I did not at first recognize, until one of my companions enlightened me--It was indeed a Doh! moment!

My two younger female Janeite friends were pretty much of the same opinions I stated above, although one of them was harder on the film that we other two.

Anyway, I recommend it, the mostly Latino audience loved the film, much laughter and emotional responsiveness, and that made the film more fun too--just as, 30 years ago, it greatly enhanced my appreciation of Richard Pryor's Live on the Sunset Strip that my first wife and I saw it in an almost entirely African American audience--it was impossible not to also roar with laughter, the theater was practically shaking! This was a milder version of that same contact high, and so, if you're going to see it, I urge you to see the film in a theater in the Hispanic part of town where you live, if possible.

I will be curious to hear the reactions of other Janeites when it is released in wide distribution--I think it's going to do really well.

I was also fortunate that the promoter of the advance screening allowed me a minute to address the theater audience before the show began, to tell them about the new Janeite community in Dade and Broward, and I gave away about 60 of my postcards to prospective members. Most of the audience had no idea that Jane Austen was in the background of this film, and the film itself makes no overt reference at all, although there are a few near quotations from the novel.

I suspect the film will be marketed differently to the wider Anglo audience, it would be foolish for them not to take advantage of Austenmania, after all!

And finally, the coolest irony is that the young woman from the promotions company who was so nice to me was named Cassandra--and she has absolutely no idea what the significance of her name was in relation to this film with two sisters who share heartbreak and happiness! ;)

Cheers, ARNIE


Nan said...

Hi Arnie,
I'll have to quote the New York Times reviewer, who figured out how to say what I couldn't:

"Updating Austen presents a particular challenge, one that “Prada” doesn’t meet: without 19th-century propriety and economics to keep the characters apart, you have to be inventive to keep the twists of the love stories from feeling nonsensical.."

Now I know you rightly say it's not really S&S, but for me, since the love stories didn't make sense, it failed as a rom-com. Still, it was a fun night out.


Arnie Perlstein said...

Nan, Sorry I did not respond sooner. I see your point, and have wondered to myself why I did not feel more negative--I think it was that while the story construction was, as you say, weak, the acting was not weak. So I felt some chemistry onscreen, and it moved me despite my intellectual objections.

But that balancing of intellectual and emotional reactions is so subjective, and maybe I'd have been more negative sitting at home without that vibe of a responsive audience around me.