Sorry for taking over 10 months to update this page but here is all the news relating the Carey over this time

Friday, 4 April 2008

When Twickenham starts swinging

Carey Mulligan plays a teeanger in the movie An Education who, she told me, 'lives this dull beige life in Twickenham'. Until, that is, an older man drives into her life.

Carey plays Jenny, a highly intelligent 16-year-old who lives with her parents in their boring semi-detached home in a south-west London suburb.

Everything changes when she meets David (Peter Sarsgaard), a man with fingers in many pies who drives a red Bristol car.

'Jenny's looking for something more than she's got,' Carey said.

On the cusp: Peter Sarsgaard and Carey Mulligan

The film is set in 1962, a really specific time just before the decade started the swinging sixties.
'It's really a time of paste sandwiches and Battenburg cake,' 22-year-old Carey noted.

It's a fantastic role for an actress on the cusp of stardom. The screenplay is by Nick Hornby and is based on an intimated memoir that award-winning journalist Lynn Barber wrote a few years ago for Granta about how, essentially, her parents allowed her to romp around with a much older man and his friends.

Hornby has opened out Barber's story, fictionalising certain elements and changing some names to protect the guilty.

Jenny gets taken to art galleries and auctions on a trip abroad and is hurled into a lifestyle that is the antithesis of life at school and with her parents.

Producers Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey have nursed the project for a long time and at one point Variety, the showbusiness trade paper, voted Hornby's script one of the best un-produced screenplays.

I've read it and it's hilarious, yet bittersweet look at our country at a certain time and place. As Carey noted, 'it's very British' yet the specific story has a universality about it.

Director Lone Scherfig told me she has been thrilled working with the likes of Carey, Emma Thompson, Rosamund Pike, Olivia Williams, Alfred Molina and Dominic Price.

From An Education, I believe Carey will graduate as a star.

As David Thompson, who supported the project when he ran BBC films, told me: 'She's luminescent.'

• There's a lot of interest in playing Heathcliff in the big-screen Wuthering Heights that John Maybury is preparing to direct this autumn.

I gather he has met Colin Farrell, Dominic Cooper and Sam Riley, but no decisions have been made. Maybury has the film The Edge Of Love coming out, with Keira Knightley and Sienna Miller giving top performances, but neither will be in Wuthering Heights.

By BAZ BAMIGBOYE - More by this author »
Last updated at 12:25pm on 4th April 2008

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Orlando Bloom Doesn't Want 'An Education' .. But Dominic Cooper Does!

Last month, I was sold on the idea of Peter Sarsgaard being a lascivious '60s swinger who gives Carey Mulligan An Education. In the sea of my hopes for a good film, I sort of glossed over the fact that Orlando Bloom was also involved. (He might make a great, stunt-performing Legolas, but he hasn't impressed me in anything else.) Well, now it seems that he's not on the roster.

The Hollywood Reporter posts that the actor has pulled out of Lone Scherfig's An Education, citing scheduling conflicts, which seems a bit weird since the film just began shooting. One would think that he would have someone watching his calendar and noticing that he was double-booked...

Whether that's the real reason or not, Orlando is out, and has been replaced by Dominic Cooper, the guy who recently popped up in The History Boys, and who will soon be a leading man in Mamma Mia! The Brit already has experience acting in the '60s/'70s as well -- he was a "Squaddie at Disco" in 2005's Breakfast on Pluto.

Almost the same story about Dominic Cooper replacing Orlando Bloom are on the following websites.,,2266353,00.html

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

'Education' gets four stars

By Gregg Goldstein
Feb 12, 2008

NEW YORK -- Peter Sarsgaard, Carey Mulligan, Alfred Molina and Emma Thompson will star in the 1960s coming-of-age drama "An Education."

Writer Nick Hornby ("About a Boy") adapted the screenplay from a memoir by Lynn Barber, published in literary magazine Granta. Endgame Entertainment and BBC Films are financing the film.

Danish director Lone Scherfig will helm the story of a 17-year-old girl (Mulligan) living in the quiet London suburbs. As the swinging '60s culture emerges, her world turns upside down after she meets a 35-year-old sportscar-driving Brit (Sarsgaard). He courts her with chic dinners, clubs and foreign trips, charming her father (Molina) but putting her future at Oxford University in jeopardy. Thompson plays the disapproving headmistress of her school.

Finola Dwyer ("Backbeat") and Amanda Posey ("Fever Pitch") are producing. Endgame CEO James D. Stern, Wendy Japhet, Douglas E. Hansen and BBC Films' David M. Thompson are executive producing. Principal photography is set to begin in late March in London.

The film will be Hornby's second produced screenplay after "Pitch," the 1997 U.K. film adaptation of his novel, and his first script not based on his own novel.

Sarsgaard is repped by CAA, Jon Rubinstein of Authentic Talent & Literary Management and attorney Jodi Peikoff. Mulligan is repped by CAA and U.K.-based Julian Belfrage Associates.

Molina is repped by Endeavor, manager Joan Hyler and U.K.-based Lou Coulson Associates.

Thompson is repped by WMA and U.K.-based Hamilton Hodell.


Carey Mulligan, the up and coming young actress who made such an impression in the BBC's lavish adaptation of Bleak House recently appeared in the ITV drama My Boy Jack alongside David Haig and Daniel Radcliffe. Here she talks about appearing in the production.

Carey was attracted to the character of Elsie because she did not conform to the wallflower role often written for young women in period dramas. This was a girl, barely an adult, who was fiercely protective of her little brother and was not afraid to tell her domineering father so:

“Although Elsie is dearly loved, I think it’s obvious from what you read about the Kiplings that Jack was the main focus of the family and Elsie was there to support him. After Josie died, that was Elsie’s position in the family - to be Jack’s confidant and friend.

“She’s stuck at home and a bit bored, but she loves her little brother desperately. In some of the letters to her parents I’ve read, she writes about Jack with such affection. The one thought that was in my mind the whole time was ‘she can’t lose another sibling [after Josie]’. I just don’t think she or the family can take losing another child.

“Elsie comes across as quite feisty in the film, but you get the feeling that the arguments they have are brought on by her real passionate belief that Jack shouldn’t go to war. I don’t think their lives are usually like that because it wouldn’t be proper or right for a girl of that age to argue with her father, but it is clearly something she feels she has to fight for, and the minute she has to defend something, the feistiness comes out of her.

“I’m glad Elsie is a feisty character - there are so many wallflower roles for girls in period drama but she has real guts. She’s interested in politics. She isn’t going to change the world, but she talks about the suffragettes. She’s quite forward thinking and finds it hard to sit through the speeches Rudyard makes about the war and to support a war which has been built up to be this magical, wonderful thing. She can see straight through to the reality of it, where many people didn’t. Also Elsie is very aware of how it’s going to affect her. It’s very close to home - it’s as if she knows John isn’t going to survive.

“I loved it that Elsie was not in any way two dimensional. She was a fully rounded character and had so much spirit. I loved the family, and the script was just one of the best things I’d read. I would read it on the tube on the way to rehearsals and I couldn’t get to the end of it without crying, and crying on the tube is quite embarrassing. As I said, there are so many wallflower parts but Elsie is so special. David has written a really good ‘girl’ and he really understood her. He didn’t write someone airy-fairy - he wrote someone very strong. She was much more ‘masculine’ than other girls of the time and that was really interesting. And I’ve never had a younger brother, so that was lovely.

Carey also relished the challenge of playing ‘a real person’, a first for her. She stepped into the character’s shoes with the help of letters Elsie had written to her family back in the early 1900s.

“I have never played a non-fictional character before. I read as much as I could about the Kiplings and the story of Jack. Not a great deal is written about Elsie [compared to the others], so the letters she wrote were an important insight into who she was. It’s hard because you can only do so much reading around the real person. At the end of the day you’ve got a script to follow, and there was such a clear character coming out of the script. Having said that, it’s so helpful to have those pictures in your mind about their life. They travelled so much and had such an amazing education being brought up by Rudyard. They were special children.”

Carey was both moved and enchanted by the world of the Kipling family, listening to Rudyard’s magical stories in one scene and witnessing a shell-shocked soldier’s pain in the next.

“I love the birthday party scene where Rudyard tells an audience of children a story. The extras weren’t all that interested in what David was saying because whenever Daniel (Radcliffe) walked in, all the kids were just fighting the urge to look at him. But Kim and I were grinning like idiots because David has such an amazing story-telling voice - it was magical. I also enjoyed the scene when the witness to Jack’s death tells the family what happened. I think Martin McCann is a brilliant actor. I remember at the read through, his speech towards the end of the film had most of the production in tears.

“It felt eerie filming at Bateman’s. Sometimes you’d think ‘do they actually approve of what we are doing?’ And would they be happy with the way their story is being told?’ I remember at one point Daniel grabbed my hand and took me to the house where, in the archway, all four of them had etched their names into the stone. I almost burst into tears. David (Haig) did the same thing. He took me down to the sundial where Rudyard had written ‘it’s hotter than you think’. It’s those tiny details which made it such an odd and emotional experience. It was so beautiful, sitting in the garden. It felt like their own little world - you could just imagine them all there, hidden away from everybody else and the press who hounded them.”

As eerily realistic as filming at Bateman’s was, it was the dialogue between Jack and Elsie which transported Carey to another time entirely – a time she had tried to persuade her own brother, an officer in the Territorial Army, from serving in Iraq.

“I had the exact same arguments with my brother about going to serve in Iraq last year. He was dead set on going. I tried to argue with him, I tried to make him give me solid reasons, and he could, which drove me mad. At the end of the day you’ve got to realise if someone is going to do something regardless, you’ve just got to love and support them as much as you can.

“When I read the script I recognised many of the arguments which went on in our house, and it very much mirrored the angst we all felt. Every time I switched the television on over the six months and saw images of Iraq, my heart just stopped. The fear and the waiting, that’s what people can relate to. When I read the script, I could see exactly what David was getting at. I’d been through it myself. The poems and the writing enhanced and articulated it in a different way but the sentiment was the same.

“It’s interesting because that’s what you rarely get to see in war films - the people who are left behind. Can you imagine how they got through the day? Did they wake up and write a list of things they would try and accomplish to fill their time so they didn’t have to think about it? And to be a girl of Elsie’s age… Rudyard could go off and throw himself into the war effort but the women were just left to think a lot. Elsie is so desperate to fill her day. Was Jack being horribly maimed the best they could hope for? If they had that in their mind, then god only knows how they got through each day.”

Carey’s hope for the film is a simple one – that it makes people think about a young boy who dies for a cause.

“I hope audiences are moved by Jack’s story. I hope they remember that boy, that they think about him for a while. And hopefully it will make people think about all those we have lost in war and those who have never been found. I think it’s such an accurate portrayal of living with someone who is in the army, fighting a war.

“It’ll touch people because they will see themselves in it. The overriding thing that comes out of the film, however, is that we can only show those who go to war that we love them. I think that’s what people do in real life. You can argue and worry about them all you like but, at the end of the day, all you really have to do is love them.”

My Boy Jack was broadcast on the ITV1 Network on Sunday 11 November 2007 / 9:00pm - 11:00pm

Review: 'Northanger Abbey' a better effort for 'Masterpiece' series

Review: 'Northanger Abbey' a better effort for 'Masterpiece' series
David Wiegand, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, January 19, 2008

If any of Jane Austen's novels could be acceptably adapted for a 90-minute film, "Northanger Abbey" is probably the best candidate. After an unfortunate launch of its three-month Jane Austen series with Sunday's "Persuasion," PBS redeems itself with a nicely pitched version of the author's first completed novel as part of "Masterpiece" on Sunday night.

"Northanger" is interesting in part because, in addition to being an amusing send-up of Gothic romance novels, it is a sketchbook for the plots and characters that would come to full bloom in Austen's later novels. There is, of course, a young, somewhat plain heroine who is pursued by a perfectly pleasant but bland chap, while her heart flutters for a more aloof man. And, of course, there is the theme of money versus sincerity, character and true love.

But "Northanger" also has its own charms, slight though they may be in comparison with Austen's later masterpieces. Catherine Morland (Felicity Jones) is a young woman with a vivid imagination and a young girl's fondness for Gothic romances. The daughter of a country clergyman, she is dispatched to provide company for wealthy family friends the Allens (Desmond Barrit and Sylvestra Le Touzel) during the social season in Bath. Catherine meets the Thorpe siblings, Isabella (Carey Mulligan), who is already smitten by Catherine's older brother, and John (William Beck), who quickly develops a crush on Catherine.

For her part, however, Catherine is already half in love with brooding Henry Tilney (JJ Feild), whose overbearing father, Gen. Tilney (Liam Cunningham), encourages the romance because he thinks Catherine will receive a large fortune from the Allens.

Money and love are, of course, at constant odds in "Northanger Abbey." Henry's sister Eleanor (Catherine Walker) is in love with a young man who, unfortunately, is the second son in the family and, thus, not slated to receive much of an inheritance. Accordingly, the general has forbidden the marriage. And Henry's character, like many Austen "heroes," is ambiguous. While he seems genuinely charmed by Catherine, he does allow that the best thing he could do would be to fall in love with a girl who comes with a large dowry. While the complexities of this character type would be more credibly explored by Austen in later figures such as "Persuasion's" Capt. Wentworth, and, of course, Mr. Darcy of "Pride and Prejudice," we can, again, see their beginnings in Henry Tilney.

While later Austen heroines would show a bit more sophistication, Catherine often comes off as a more than just a little naive. Her fondness for Gothic romances has led her to imagine that highwaymen are going to overtake her carriage on the way to Bath at any moment. That notion can be easily dismissed as the musings of a silly schoolgirl, but later, while staying at Northanger Abbey with the Tilneys, she endangers her relationship with Henry by conjuring up the idea that his father may, in fact, have murdered his wife. At various points in the "Masterpiece" film, Catherine's imaginings are dramatized as part of the action. In fact, the first time it happens, you'll probably believe that her carriage really is being overtaken by highwaymen. While the scenes may seem silly, they correctly represent Austen's gentle satire of this overheated genre. In fact, there's a running debate in the story about whether it is in fact dangerous to read too many novels.

While "Persuasion" is a bigger challenge to try to squeeze into 90 minutes, the real difference between that film and "Northanger" is the latter's consistency of high-quality performances, a careful and attentive adaptation by Andrew Davies and solid direction by Jon Jones. Jones is quite winning as Catherine, although she does seem a bit too young to know whether she's actually in love or not. That's fine for the earlier scenes, but it becomes a bit of a stretch when Tilney is actively courting her.

As an aside, let it be known that in its finite wisdom, PBS has decided to truncate the name of its Sunday night warhorse from "Masterpiece Theatre" to "Masterpiece." In a similar vein, no doubt we can expect future PBS offerings such as "Myst," "Live From Linc," "Great Perf" and, for the kids, "Cliff the Big."

'Northanger Abbey' is lighthearted Austen

'Northanger Abbey' is lighthearted Austen
By Matthew Gilbert, Globe Staff | January 19, 2008

This new PBS adaptation of Jane Austen's "Northanger Abbey," tomorrow at 9 p.m. on Channel 2, was written by Andrew Davies. If you're a fan of filmed classic novels, you've probably already admired Davies' work as the screenwriter of some of PBS's best "Masterpiece Theatre" productions - "Bleak House," "Middlemarch," "The Way We Live Now," and the "Pride and Prejudice" - that would be the 1995 version starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, with all due respect to Sir Laurence O.

Davies has a pleasing way of staying true to his masterful sources in spirit and detail, never imposing a contemporary vision onto them in the way Jane Campion and Laura Jones did in 1996 with "The Portrait of a Lady," by making the Henry James novel into a tale of domestic abuse. And yet Davies knows how to clear off the dust, too, to translate all the 19th-century manners and obscurities for today's audiences. There's a nice scene early in "Northanger Abbey" when heroine Catherine Morland and hero Henry Tilney are talking about flirting while flirting, and Davies makes their clever "meta" exchange - talking about talking - feel like a Victorian invention.

There are things to like about Davies' "Northanger Abbey," even while it is flawed and superficial, particularly when the storyline collapses awkwardly toward the end. It is not one of Davies' most consistent adaptations, but still, it's an easy-to-watch introduction to one of Austen's lesser-known novels. Austen wrote "Northanger Abbey" early in her career but, after a publishing misadventure, it was not released until after her death. About an imaginative young woman who reads too many Gothic novels, the story is Austen's most lighthearted.

Catherine Moreland (Felicity Jones), an impressionable 17-year-old from a large, not particularly wealthy family, is brought into Bath leisure society by family friends. There she meets two very different pairs of siblings. Isabella Thorpe (Carey Mulligan) and John Thorpe (William Beck) are lively and, perhaps, scheming. Eleanor Tilney (Catherine Walker) and Henry Tilney (JJ Feild) are quieter, more mysterious, and more dignified. Having only learned about life through heightened, supernatural novels, Catherine is ill-equipped to parse out the good and the bad in the Thorpes and the Tilneys.

The movie gives us black-and white flashes of Catherine's vivid fantasies - scenarios in which she is captured by thieves, Henry rescues her, and she swoons in quasi-sexual ecstasy and fear. In the novel, Austen is teasing Catherine, and Davies carries that gently mocking tone into the movie through an authorial voiceover that musingly tells us, "Something must and will happen to throw adventure in her way."

At one point while staying with the Tilneys at their large home, Northanger Abbey, Catherine imagines that their father, a stiff general, was in some way responsible for the death of their late mother. Swept up in her sense of drama, she shares her theory with Henry and appears to trigger a series of unpleasant events. By that moment, though, the movie has already given up on its storytelling efforts and on making the secondary characters anything more than sketches. Davies and director Jon Jones seem to be saying, "OK, you know where this is all going, so let's just go there. You've seen an Austen movie, that's good enough."

Part of "The Complete Jane Austen" presented by "Masterpiece" this season, "Northanger Abbey" probably needs more than 90 minutes to do justice to Austen's novel. While it is a fairly obvious piece of work, in that the perceptions of characters generally match their realities, the story still deserves enough time to explore more thoroughly how the Thorpes' behavior affects our heroine, and how our heroine grows. As she learns not to be so easily influenced by others and by books, we need to know more about the allure of those influences.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at

Masterpiece Theatre: Northanger Abbey (2007)

Masterpiece Theatre: Northanger Abbey (2007)
WGBH // Unrated // $24.95 // January 22, 2008

Review by Paul Mavis | posted January 21, 2008

WGBH Boston Video and Granada International have released Northanger Abbey, the latest Jane Austen adaptation that premiered this past spring on Britain's ITV Channel. Streamlined to a sprightly 86 minutes, this enjoyable little romp make take liberties with Austen's affectionate parody of Gothic novels, but it's fairly faithful to the spirit of her novel, providing a diverting lark that fans of Austen - provided they're not purist sticklers - should find entertaining.

Catherine Moreland (Felicity Jones), a 17-year-old beauty-in-waiting from rural Fullerton, is given an invitation by her family friends, Mr. and Mrs. Allen (Desmond Barritt and Sylvestra Le Touzel), to join them in Bath, England, a spa city of culture, entertainment, and high society. The naive Catherine, who is obsessed with romantic Gothic novels, has one of her primal dreams come true when she meets handsome, wealthy clergyman Henry Tilney (J.J. Feild) at a society ball. Tilney shows obvious interest in the beautiful country girl, but Catherine has reason to believe he may just be a passing fancy, since he soon leaves Bath, with no explanation, for several days. No matter, though; another young man, John Thorpe (Willam Beck), also watches Catherine at the ball.

When Catherine is introduced to Isabella Thorpe (Carey Mulligan), a naughty new best friend is made. Isabella, a saucy minx whose brother John knew Catherine's brother James (Hugh O'Conor) in college, immediately sets her sights on ensnaring James, incorrectly assuming the Morelands to be potentially wealthy when the Allens, who are childless, leave their fortunes to Catherine and James. Interest in James doesn't stop Isabella, who also loves Gothic romances - the more salacious the better - from flirting with Henry's dashing, cold older brother, Captain Frederick Tilney (Mark Dymond), and eventually becoming his lover. Catherine, despite attempts by John Thorpe to press himself on her, renews her courtship with Henry, which is good news to Henry's father, General Tilney (Liam Cunningham), who is led to believe by a jealous John that Catherine is indeed wealthy (and therefore a safe match for wealthy Henry). Inviting Catherine up to their forbidding mansion, Northanger Abbey, for several weeks, stern General Tilney initiates with his invitation a series of events that will turn Catherine and Henry's life upside-down.


Last week, I reviewed one of the other new Jane Austen adaptations that ITV kicked off their Jane Austen Season last spring; three films that I understand will appear on the newly rebooted Masterpiece Theatre (you can read my review of Persuasion here). Like that film version, Northanger Abbey has been retooled specifically to appeal to new viewers who may find older film versions of Austen's novels staid or too dense. Gone is quite a bit of Austen's profuse backgrounds of various characters - and the resulting nuances, as well. Events have been compressed, or invented out of whole cloth, and the energy level has been jacked up to reinvigorate viewers more accustomed to the stately pace of previous Masterpiece Theatre presentations.

Naturally, there are those who find such "improvements" not improvements at all, but those same viewers usually find fault with any film adaptation of a literary classic. While Persuasion was beautifully naked in its fever-like emotions, creating a direct plea to the audience to connect with its heroine, Northanger Abbey is quite different in tone, with a fast-paced comedic sensibility that may not be pure Austen, but which comes close to what she was trying to achieve with her novel. Northanger Abbey, her first completed novel, was a gentle parody of the Gothic form that still featured submerged, stinging Austen commentary on the dynamics of men's and women's relationships, as well as on the nakedly venal jockeying of the various classes in the pursuit of profitable marriages. Her "heroine" was an inversion of the typical Gothic heroine, in that she turned out to be completely wrong in her dangerous, highly romantic assumptions about the Tilney family. Suffused with the sensibilities of the coarse, common Gothic novels that were considered declasse for a young woman of her position, Catherine assumes that something terrible happened to General Tilney's wife, who died years before. Taking the word of flighty Isabella and scheming John Thorpe, Catherine eventually works herself up into believing that the General committed murder, with the foreboding edifice of Northanger Abbey fueling her fictional obsessions. Among the several thematic elements that Austin attempted to expound on, the central one was illustrating how real-life events are far more prosaic in details - and yet far more devastating in their life-long impact - than any overheated, cardboard histrionics of a Gothic novel.

And on illustrating that central theme, Northanger Abbey is fairly successful. Providing us with brief, delirious little dream sequences courtesy of Catherine's fevered imagination, the viewer immediately understands that almost all of Catherine's thinking has been adversely affected by the newly popular medium of the novel. The suspense of the film comes from our wondering if she'll snap out of her dreamworld long enough to truly understand the players on the scorecard, before her actions - again, based on highly improbably fictional conceits - irreparably harm her real-life future. While the film shifts occasionally in tone, with the earlier sequences veering dangerously close to an almost-slapstick ambience, Northanger Abbey is fairly consistent in its aims. Those Masterpiece Theatre fans not accustomed to screenwriter Andrew Davies' more flamboyant additions - and severe eliminations - may initially pass off Northanger Abbey as a Avon romance novel come to life. But the spoofy, obvious comedic tone of the piece is wholly self-conscious and intentional, and entirely in keeping with Austen's original intention.

Evidently, some English viewers were put off by the Irish location work (for whatever reasons - perhaps monetary - the more expensive prospect of dressing authentic Bath locations for period filming was abandoned). But the skimping won't bother the majority of U.S. viewers who won't know the difference, and as with Persuasion, the production design and lensing is quite nice, with all costumes and set decorations up to par. The acting, as with most British period productions, is exemplary. Felicity Jones pulls off the neat trick of appearing both country-bumpkinish naive and sexually desirable - perfect for her character. She handles the comedy well, and has nice, heated chemistry with Feild (he looks rather disconcertedly at times like Jude Law). He's quite adept at getting across Henry's cynicism, while providing female viewers with the required handsome, wistful romanticism called for in this type of film. Carey Mulligan is ideal as the sexually active, willful, scheming Isabella, and William Beck is suitably odious as the opportunist John Thorpe. Directed by Jon Jones in a manner befitting this abbreviated, amped-up adaptation, the cast is obviously having fun with this speedy little comedy - which translates well to the viewer.

Just a small note, however, concerning this U.S. disc version of Northanger Abbey. According to some sources I've read, there may be a scene or scenes in the original British TV version that are not present here. Specifically, there's a sequence where Isabella and Catherine discuss a rather torrid Gothic novel, The Monk, which leads to a dream sequence where Catherine, in her bath, imagines Henry coming to her naked. The initial discussion between the two girls is here, leading to a brief shot of sleeping Catherine writhing in obvious sexual pleasure on her bed, but an abrupt cut to an opera performance may indicate that the subsequent dream sequence was cut. This particular DVD times out at 86 minutes, while other sources say the film was 90 minutes in Britain -- perhaps this accounts for the lost sequence. Again, I stress "may," because I haven't seen the original British TV version.

The DVD:

The Video:
The anamorphically enhanced, 1.78:1 widescreen image for Northanger Abbey looks scrumptious, with a beautifully hued color scheme and no compression issues in the super-sharp picture.

The Audio:
The Dolby Digital English 2.0 stereo audio mix is quite adequate for this dialogue-heavy presentation. All lines are heard crisply and cleanly. Close-captioning is available.

The Extras:
Unfortunately, there are no extras for Northanger Abbey, which is a shame, considering the fact that I'm sure promotional materials were shot for such a prestigious TV production.

Final Thoughts:
Purists may squawk, but I rather enjoyed the heated ridiculousness of Northanger Abbey, which takes Austen's gentle parody of Gothic novels, and turns it into an appropriately-toned bodice ripper - at least at the start. Austen's social commentary is still there, though, albeit in severely abbreviated form, and the final wrap-up is suspensefully handled. A good introduction to the novel, and entertaining in its own right. I recommend Northanger Abbey.

An Austen heroine with a fertile imagination

The central character in 'Northanger Abbey' tends to cast herself in Gothic romances, which makes her fun to watch in Masterpiece Theatre's adaptation.
By Mary McNamara
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

January 19, 2008

In the good old days, before Jane Austen was a pop star, with assorted websites and an action figure, "Northanger Abbey" was what used to be called a "lesser-known work." "Emma," "Pride and Prejudice," "Sense and Sensibility," even "Persuasion" all could be referred to in casual conversation by those desirous of proving their good taste and general familiarity with English literature. Mention your devotion to "Northanger Abbey," however, and you instantly identified yourself as a Jane Austen geek.

This is strange, since "Northanger Abbey" is the most lighthearted of Austen's novels, a gentle take-down of the popular Gothic novels of the time, with their swooning, sexually endangered heroines, mildly depraved villains and heroes in thigh-high boots.

Catherine Morland is a typical Austen character -- young, innocent, neither classically beautiful nor rich, but with an endearing nature and spirit to compensate for such deficits. She is also a novel-addict, longing for a swoon scene of her own and finding potential intrigue wherever she looks. Especially in the grim and echoing pile of the title, where lives the man she admires and his beloved sister.

All of which makes "Northanger Abbey" particularly perfect for TV adaptation. The second in Masterpiece Theatre's "Complete Jane Austen," "Northanger" lends itself more freely to the term "based on." Thus Andrew Davies (who has done many Austen adaptations, including the 1995 TV production of "Pride and Prejudice," not to mention those Bridget Jones movies) may hew faithfully to the essential story, but he also has a little fun with it.

Instead of being told of Catherine's runaway imagination, we see it in action -- a young woman is thrown into the clutches of a jailer; imagined ruffians attacking a stagecoach; Catherine writhes against a tree, the seduced and seductive prize of a duel. Hot stuff, considering the source. (But then, Mr. Davies also adapted a version of "Fanny Hill" for television.)

If the dream-time Catherine seems a bit more wanton than an Austen character has any right to be, the real-time character makes up for it with her fresh-faced likability.

The young and lovely Felicity Jones plays Catherine as a true innocent and, as Austen would say, the soul of amiability. One of 10 children, Catherine is thrilled when wealthy friends of her parents offer to take her to fashionable Bath, where her wide-eyed, winning ways capture the attention of two men: the quick and quirky Henry Tilney (J.J. Feild) and the overbearing but handsome John Thorpe (William Beck). Each has the requisite sister -- Eleanor Tilney (Catherine Walker) is as gentle and gracious as Isabella Thorpe (Carey Mulligan) is vivacious and, as it turns out, scheming.

Mulligan, last seen in "The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard" and "Bleak House," is a versatile actress who could just as easily (sans blond ringlets) played Catherine. As it is, she's a perfect Austen foil -- pretty, lively and, oh, so fond of our heroine. When she becomes engaged to Catherine's brother but continues her flirtatious ways, we know betrayal is only a matter of time.

But Catherine, defining the role of ingénue as she does, reserves her suspicions for the Tilney household, fearing, and desiring, that in Northanger Abbey's looming towers and locked rooms lurks a secret worthy of any Gothic plot. Like every Austen heroine, she is at last taught the dangers of predisposition, and then, of course, there is a wedding.

Oh, you could poke a few holes in the production -- the 90-minute playing time does not leave much room for mood. Beck's John Thorpe is not polished enough to fool even a young woman for more than a few minutes, while Feild seems to downplay Tilney's rather zany charms. Davies gets a bit carried away with the sexiness -- "there's a young peach ripe for plucking," comments the young roué as he catches sight of Catherine, while Austen no doubt turns in her grave.

And as always happens with a screen adaptation of Austen, much of the author's sharp humor is lost in translation, though mercifully a voice-over preserves such wonderful lines as: "A family of 10 children, of course, will always be called a fine family where there are heads and arms and legs enough for the number, but the Morlands were, in general, very plain."

We also get all the pretty hats and dresses, the candlelit interiors, the sylvan walks and, of course, all that witty dialogue while dancing. So who's going to complain?

"Northanger Abbey" the novel was as fun as it gets for Austen, and the television film quite lives up to the same standard. Which is not to recommend it as a substitute for the novel, which it is now quite the fashion to have read.,1,785732,print.story?ctrack=3&cset=true

Have you news of my boy Jack?

It's rare today - in TV's lightweight world of tacky reality shows and insignificant tittle-tattle tosh - that something reaffirms television's power to educate, shock, inform, overwhelm, grip and entertain. But My Boy Jack does just that and considerably more. One of the most potent programmes you'll see on television this year, it's so powerful that at times it's almost unbearable to watch. Seriously good, haunting TV, it will stay lodged in your memory for a long time.

Written by actor David Haig - and based on his own stage version of a true-life story - My Boy Jack reveals how author and poet Rudyard Kipling used his influence to get his 17-year-old son John (called Jack) a commission with the Irish Guards, despite his son's poor eyesight, shortly after the outbreak of the First World War.

It was a terrible mistake, for a few months later Lieutenant John Kipling was killed in action, slowly and very cruelly cut down in a hail of machine-gun bullets at the Battle of Loos in September 1915, just one day after his 18th birthday.

But that wasn't the end of it. It took Kipling and his wife Caroline years to uncover the awful truth about their son's terrible death, and they never found his body. And, understandably, it altered Kipling's attitude to a war that he had previously whole-heartedly supported and publicly promoted.

It's not just a powerful story. The casting here is carefully chosen and top-notch. Haig himself plays Rudyard Kipling, giving a bravura performance as the writer, best known for The Jungle Book and Just So Stories, but here shown in his true colours as a hectoring, lecturing, often overbearing, bombastic paterfamilias with dangerously jingoistic leanings.

Daniel Radcliffe - playing his first major role on TV since the Harry Potter film series - is superb, keeping things finely understated as young Jack, the lad who wants to break away from his father and the suffocating, privileged world of his upbringing. Rebuffed twice by two military medical boards, through his father's influence he gains a commission, then trains hard with his men, and bravely goes over the top of the trenches to meet his death. Complementing the two leads are fine support roles from Kim Cattrall (Sex and the City's Samantha Jones) as Kipling's wife Caroline and Carey Mulligan as their daughter Elsie.

The script is tight and taut, running very smoothly, the locations are beautifully shot, the attention to detail - especially the battlefield scene - is superb, and the piece is brilliantly directed and edited, building unbearably in tension. And the closing scenes, over which Haig solemnly reads Kipling's poem My Boy Jack (written after his son's death), are a masterstroke.

Appropriately scheduled for peak-time viewing on Remembrance Sunday, this is TV at its finest. Harrowing, yet essential viewing.
Paul Strange