By: Christa Protano
Dearest Reader: Good news! While we wait to see how Penelope and Colin get on in season 3 of Bridgerton, there is something you can do to bide the time. We suggest adding these Jane Austen film adaptations to your queue. After all, without Ms. Austen’s inspiration, there wouldn’t be a Lady Whistledown, or a Bridget Jones, or even a Cher Horowitz for that matter. Don’t believe us? See for yourself with one of these big-screen romances.
For a literal interpretation of Austen’s most popular novel, look no further than Pride & Prejudice starring the darling of the early 2000s, Miss Keira Knightly. And guess who plays Mr. Darcy — Succession’s own Matthew Macfadyen. Dare we say that his 2005 character’s struggle with the class system set him up for his current Emmy-award winning role?
Want something a little more current? Well you’re in luck, because this classic coming of age tale has recently been interpreted into Fire Island on Hulu. And we’d be remiss if we did not mention 2001’s Bridget Jones Diary, featuring the comedic talents of an early Renee Zellweger as she stumbles her way through this dramatic love triangle.
If you haven’t noticed already, the nineties are back: mom jeans, grungy plaids, chunky heels. Personally, I’m here for it, and I’m here for some classic nineties movies as well. So while 1995’s Sense and Sensibility premiered more than 25 years ago, the nostalgia factor is high thanks to Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman, and even Hugh Grant. Based on Austen’s first literary masterpiece to be published, this literal interpretation won an Academy Award for Best Writing for an adapted screenplay.
Also coming in hot from 1995, Clueless. While most of Generation X may still find themselves using a catchphrase or two from this decade (“As If!”), its Alicia Silverstone’s breakout role as Cher Horowitz that has really stood the test of time. Between the outfits, the Beverly Hills backdrop, and iconic soundtrack, it's no surprise this Emma-inspired comedy is considered to be perhaps the best adaptation of them all. But if you’re looking for a more authentic representation, 2020’s Emma stars Anya Taylor-Joy (of The Queen’s Gambit) and received pretty good reviews from the critics too.
With Netflix experiencing unparalleled success in Bridgerton, it makes sense that the streaming service has started to produce other romantic period dramas. This year’s Persuasion, starring Dakota Fanning and Henry Goulding, is worth a watch for fans of the genre. While the costumes and scenery are not as opulent, there is still a modern vibe layered over the Regency Era. And just like the ton's Viscount and Kate Sharma, you can watch Anne and Wentworth struggle ’til the very end to find one another amid long promenades and misunderstandings.