Persuasion: Netflix’s Jane Austen movie trailer, 2022 release date - and film cast with Dakota Johnson

Fans have complained that Netflix have turned one of Austen’s ‘saddest’ novels into a ‘cheeky’ romance

Persuasion - Jane Austen's final novel before her death - is widely regarded as her most mature work, displaying a refinement of literary skill befitting a woman approaching 40 years of age.

Anne Elliot breaks off her engagement to Frederick Wentworth and considers marriage to her cousin in the novel, which is also widely recognised as one of Austen's best and saddest.

Which may explain why admirers of the author reacted negatively to the first trailer for a new Netflix adaptation of the classic starring Dakota Johnson.

Here is everything you need to know.

What is Persuasion about?

The story follows Anne Elliot, a twenty-seven-year-old Englishwoman whose family decides to rent their property to an Admiral and his wife in order to cut costs and pay off debt.

“Living with her snobby family on the brink of bankruptcy, Anne Elliot is an unconforming woman with modern sensibilities,” says Netflix’s official synopsis on the film.

Navy Captain Frederick Wentworth, the wife's brother, was betrothed to Anne in 1806, but the engagement was broken when Anne was "persuaded" to abandon their relationship by friends and family.

“When Frederick Wentworth - the dashing one she let get away - crashes back into her life, Anne must choose between putting the past behind her or listening to her heart when it comes to second chances.”

(L to R) Dakota Johnson as Anne Elliot, Izuka Hoyle as Henrietta Musgrove, Nia Towle as Louisa Musgrove, Mia McKenna-Bruce as Mary Elliot in Persuasion (Photo: Nick Wall/Netflix)

Why has the trailer caused controversy?

The trailer for the film has sparked debate on Twitter, with notable authors, critics and Austen lovers all reacting to the bizarrely cheerful clip.

Described as a “witty, modern” take on the classic love story, Persuasion appears to continue the Bridgerton trend of cheeky romance adaptations.

In the teaser, Johnson directly addresses the audience, breaking the fourth wall to tell the audience, “Don’t let anyone tell you how to live. Or who to love.”

The trailer has also been compared unfavourably to Dickenson and Enola Holmes, another Netflix production in which the protagonist speaks directly to the audience.

Kathryn Van Arendonk, a TV critic for New York magazine, remarked on the modern take: ““I truly, truly hate the move to do cheeky direct-to-camera address for 19th century adaptations, especially for ones like Persuasion that are supposed to be devastatingly sad.”

One line of dialogue in particular stood out among the other changes to the source material that has irritated fans.

In Persuasion, Austen writes: “There could have never been two hearts so open, no tastes so similar, no feelings so in unison, no countenances so beloved. Now they were as strangers; nay, worse than strangers, for they could never become acquainted. It was a perpetual estrangement.”

A shortened and modified version of the quote appears in the trailer as well: “Now, we’re worse than exes. We’re friends.”

“Whoever wrote that deserves jail”, wrote one Twitter user.

Who’s in the cast?

Alongside Dakota Johnson, Cosmo Jarvis (Lady Macbeth), Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians), Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), and Nikki Amuka-Bird (Jupiter Ascending) star in the retelling of the 1817 novel.

Carrie Cracknell directs the Netflix release, her feature film debut following a career in theatre, which has been adapted for the screen by Ron Bass and Alice Victoria Winslow.

When can I watch it?

The film is scheduled to premiere on Netflix on 15 July 2022.

It will also receive a limited cinema run a week earlier, from 8 July.