Modern Persuasion

Wren (Alicia Witt) is started one day at work to find that her ex-boyfriend Owen (Shane McRae) has hired her firm to do work for his wildly successful company. Her firm has suffered some financial setbacks and has recently had to downgrade its offices to keep running, so there’s no question of turning this down. They need the money, and a win. But Wren and Owen haven’t spoken in years – things ended badly, and you can’t exactly blame Wren for not wanting to relive the relationship in front of her coworkers.

While trying to avoid Owen, Wren gets to know his right hand man, Sam (Dominic Rains), who is handsome, sensitive, and still tending his own wounds from a rather bad breakup. He’s basically irresistible. But Wren’s aunt Vanessa (Bebe Neuwirth) is pushing her toward someone else – Tyler (Christopher O’Shea) is handsome and fun and pushy enough to insinuate himself to the head of the pack.

Who we are and how we’re feeling colour the way we watch movies – they way we interpret any story, really. And the way I’m colouring things these days is in red and green. It’s Christmastime and I’ve been watching Hallmark movies nearly round the clock, some of which even star Ms. Alicia Witt. So I confess that a) I assumed I knew which of these suitors she’d end up with, based on the tried and true Hallmark formula, and b) at one point I got disoriented because I realized that none of the sets were decorated within an inch of their lives. It brought me back down to earth, where I spent the rest of the movie reminding myself that this wasn’t a Hallmark movie, and it didn’t owe me the ending I’d expected, or indeed a happy ending at all.

Of course, as a lover of books, I was also familiar with Jane Austen’s Persuasion, upon which this film is loosely based, in theme anyway, if not in faithful plotting. But I never did shake that Hallmark feeling. Is it possible that Jane Austen is the prototypical romance writer, and Hallmark’s just be cribbing her style this whole time? In fact, it is very possible, and Modern Persuasion might be the greatest evidence of the fact.

Overall, the movie is a pretty light affair. Its modernity is rather unsubtle and at times cringey, but you can always see where it’s coming from and how it got there. It’s not adding much to the genre, as undemanding as cinema gets, really, a big flimsy and forgettable, but I do see its use: in just a few days, the 2020 Christmas season will be over, and with it goes Hallmark’s slate of holiday romance movies for another year. This piece might be a welcome transition so you don’t have to go cold turkey. It should help with your Hallmark detox and bridge that gap between Christmas romance and Valentine’s romance, and we all know that January is indeed an overwhelming and icy gap, so warm your cockles with a dose of Modern Persuasion.

AVAILABLE DIGITALLY AND ON DEMAND FRIDAY, DECEMBER 18TH 2020
AND IN SELECT CANADIAN THEATRES

6 thoughts on “Modern Persuasion

  1. Liz A.

    I was wondering if this was a Jane Austen. Have you noticed the Christmas movies that cribbed Austen’s stories as well? My roommates were watching one and I realized it was Sense and Sensibility. They weren’t impressed when I told them that.

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  2. Rosaliene Bacchus

    “Is it possible that Jane Austen is the prototypical romance writer, and Hallmark’s just be cribbing her style this whole time?”
    ~ An interesting question. It’s possible. After watching their movies year-round, I have found that their formula is clear and predictable.

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