I adore the Jane Austen books, and I am frequently easily frustrated when the movies are not completely accurate. I also take great offense and am quite disgusted when I see another Jane Austen spin-off or sequel. I refuse to read them, but I have caught glimpses, and they gag me. It really truly is very conceited when people do dare to even think that they can add anything worthwhile to classic works.
I had not until recently watched any Jane Austen spin-off movie. I really enjoyed From Prada to Nada. It only follows the very barest basics of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility (which is much of why it is good); it really is authentic and interesting. I like the whole Mexican theme since that culture is a completely different world from mine (as is the filthy rich L.A. life for that matter). I think I am more offended by book spin-offs because the authors somehow think that they can be like Jane Austen simply because their plot and characters’ names are the same. It was not her plots alone that drew people; it was how well she wrote and developed her stories and characters.
The immediate beginning of the movie is not exactly dazzling. The first shots are dizzying, and the absurd yellow tanning lotion on the girls’ faces is seriously obnoxious-is that really supposed to make us think that they are Mexican? Yes, each is probably Latin, but Mexican is a distinct Latin race, and I do not think Nora cuts it, especially since their father is VERY Mexican looking as is the painting of their mother; Nora is truly fair-skinned. I did think Mary is believable as a Mexican. I always am bothered by details like this because I like things to be as plausible, realistic, and/or conceivable as possible. I can be a perfectionist even over trifling movies.
While we are on the subject of being realistic, I also found the fact that neither girl knows Spanish is very unlikely (not to mention the addition of this fact into the movie is quite unnecessary-it does not add to any aspect of the movie anything of worth). We have several bilingual parents in our church and most, if not all, of them teach their children their native tongue. It would have been more believable had both Nora and Mary been taught the language since their earliest years, and then Mary refused to speak it ever since she became a teenager because she wanted to be completely American. I would have expected scholarly good girl Nora to know, speak, and perhaps even study it.
There are a few moral and ideological issues. One major one is that Mary sleeps with Roderigo. She obviously has a morally lax attitude; it is probably not her first indiscretion, and her attitude seems to be acceptable by the others characters. So that stance of the movie is not pleasing, but it is to be expected of Hollywood; however, immorality is not rubbed in your face so to speak, and the most sluttish dressing characters (Olivia and Lucy) are the ones that are supposed to be hated (Mary’s outfits are not remotely modest, but I don’t think she is as calculated in this as the two formerly mentioned women).
Another issue is that lightly touched topic of illegal immigration which is obviously factual but nevertheless wrong. No body seems to find a fault with it. Indeed, Nora seems to want to help illegal immigrants with her law practice. Nora lives extremely conservatively, but her ideologies seem to be very liberal which is rather strange…and unrealistic in light of her lifestyle I think.
The actresses who played the girls are excessively thin. I would say anorexic although obviously this would not be anorexia at its worst. It is believable that silly, shallow Mary might be anorexic, but actresses should never be so thin to play that sort of person. Sensible Nora would not have been so thin if she was a real person, and Nora is most certainly the thinnest. For sensitive girls this could be very discouraging to notice, and it is certainly a terrible example.
Overall I think it is a fairly clean PG-13 movie which of course pleased me. There is the easily skipped (you are given fair warning in time to miss the sensual part) scene where it shows that Mary has slept with Rodrigo; no actual sex scene is shown. There are several immodest women. There are some four letter words said quite clearly (by Mary mostly); there probably are more things said, but I (thankfully) miss a lot in this department (Nora says something to Mary that could be heard two ways after Nora asks Mary why Mary wants to be with Rodrigo). Mary smokes pot, and Nora gets drunk.
After I got over the weird dizzy beginning, I really started to enjoy the movie. The movie is not spectacular by any means, but I thought that it is acted well enough for the type of movie that it is (silly chick flick). I think it is very sweet; I like the emphasis on family; Gabe Jr. is accepted into their family and seems to come to love his sisters (unlike Henry Dashwood of the novel). I think there is very little cattiness in it which is surprising for a chick-flick.
Edward is so cute and sweet (but I don’t think they needed to use the name from the book-after all, they use none of the other names exactly, so that choice is seriously out of place). In the book Edward makes a stupid choice before he meets Elinor and when he is about nineteen; in this movie Edward makes his stupid move after he meets Nora and when he is at least in his mid-twenties. All of these details make the choice much worse in the movie which is quite disappointing because this Edward is quite nice. I feel that he should try much harder to win Nora even before he tells (well, shows :D) her how he feels. And after he tells her he gives up pretty quick (she is drunk when she refuses him after all).
I like Nora despite her faults for she is not a self-righteous goody-goody. She really tries to improve her life and those of other people, she tries to make Mary do the same, but she is harsh with Mary about Rodrigo (if you choose to hear the word one way) even if it is true. She also is cruel to Edward when she refuses him especially as she has absolutely no real reason to think that he is like she makes him out to be.
Mary is less like her literary original (it is stretching it to say that any of these characters really correspond to those in the book, but for Mary there is especially little linkage) than Nora is hers. Marianne is an immature girl; Mary is an immature adult. Mary is also immoral something that Marianne is most certainly not. Mary is also intentionally and calculatedly selfish, mean, petty, silly, and rude (Marianne is selfish but not by design but by thoughtlessness, and she is foolish, but she is neither petty nor silly and rarely rude, certainly not like Mary is). I do not want any aspersions cast on Marianne because of her so-called corresponding character.
Both Marianne and Mary learn their lessons, but the movie is not deep, and Mary does not learn deeply although she is sincere. Her lesson also seems more to be of learning that she should love Bruno than anything else. I am not sure she ever apologizes to anyone either.
There is not as much of Bruno (I love his name!) in the movie as there is of Colonel Brandon in the novel, and he is not quite the noble character (I cannot forgive him for being rude to Edward especially since he has absolutely no reason for it, petty or deep). The parts of the movie that do have him in it are frequently amusing since he has an ongoing “feud” with Mary, and his jabs are usually much better than her attempts at retaliations. I love the part when he tells Mary that two of the cords of her car need to be connected like her head and her mouth should be when she speaks.
When Mary and Bruno make up and get together; it is of course amusing as well, and he cannot help but mock her still. I wish their “romance” is a little more interesting, and though I obviously like it, I wish that the same sort of conclusion is given to Mary and Bruno as is given to Edward and Nora.
I am thrilled that Edward proposes to Nora instead of simply asking her to move in with him (which is how it first appears). He has an engagement ring connected to the key to the house he wants them to buy (right across from her aunt’s house). Edward is sweet but hardly romantic although his odd clueless wooing is cute in its own way. I always love when movies end with a wedding.