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Critics put Netflix's Persuasion on blast

Dakota Johnson as Anne Elliot in Netflix's Persuasion.
Persuasion is being blasted by critics across the web. (Image credit: Netflix/ Nick Wall)

The reviews are in for the latest adaptation of Persuasion, but critics have not been kind to Netflix's newest release. 

Persuasion received a limited theatrical run from Friday, July 8 followed by a launch on Netflix on July 15. The streaming service's take on the Austen classic had already riled up the internet when the trailer was released, but the critics' response (after getting the full-length experience) is even worse.

The adaptation of Jane Austen's final novel has Dakota Johnson taking on the lead role of Anne Elliott, an unmarried 27-year-old (considered middle-aged in the 18th century) with limited romantic prospects. Well, that is, until the arrival of dashing naval officer Captain Frederick Wentworth (Cosmo Jarvis) — who Anne was engaged to nearly a decade ago.

Anne's family had forced her to break things off with Wentworth due to his poor prospects at the time, but the pair are thrown back together when Anne's own family is forced to vacate their lavish estate.

Reviews are in for the new period drama, but critics really dislike this Austen adaptation. Here's what reviewers are saying about Persuasion...

Persuasion reviews — what the critics are saying 

The film gets a rotten 31% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, from the critics. However, audiences at home seem keener, giving it a much more positive 67% fresh rating. So judge for yourself. Which side do you come down on? 

Reviews of Persuasion

  • Louise Okafor, What to Watch: 2.5/5
    "It makes you wonder why Netflix picked Persuasion at all if they were going to jettison so much of what actually makes it Persuasion."
  • Clarisse Loughrey, The Independent (opens in new tab): 1/5
    "Above all, at no point during Carrie Cracknell's directorial debut do you ever get the sense that anyone's actually read Persuasion. For those with even the slightest affinity for Austen's work, it's vaguely mortifying to watch – seeing one of her most beautifully molded protagonists, a sorrowful vessel hounded by the ghosts of lost love, stripped of her poetry and reduced to an Instagram caption about the pitfalls of millennial dating."
  • Dana Stevens, Slate: (opens in new tab) no stars
    Netflix’s Persuasion Isn’t Just Bad Austen. It’s One of the Worst Movies in Years. There’s nothing wrong with updating classic novels, but everything’s wrong with this movie.
  • Francesca Steele, iNews: (opens in new tab) 1/5
    "I’m all for modernizing the classics (see 2020’s Emma for Austen with an injection of over-the-top fun) but this one can’t decide if it’s trying to amuse or edify and consequently does neither. Bring back Bridgerton, please."
  • Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian (opens in new tab): 2/5
    "Jane Austen's calm, subtle novel gets the Fleabag treatment in this smirking rom-com; it has more wrong notes than an inebriated squadron of harpists, including everything but a last-minute rush in a barouche to Bath airport."
  • Hoai-Tran Bui, Slash Film: (opens in new tab) 5/10
    "Johnson's Anne is both relatable and not relatable at all — a rom-com heroine steeped in stereotype who fancies herself better than she is. Unfortunately, it's hard to be persuaded to love her or to love this mess of an adaptation."
  • Patrick Cremona, Radio Times: (opens in new tab) 2/5
    "This is an awkward and rather lifeless adaptation that's almost completely devoid of genuine emotional intensity."
  • The Evening Standard (opens in new tab): 2/5
    "This Netflix adaptation of the Jane Austen novel wants to be seen as wet-your-knickers funny. Oh, dear. You need only take precautions if your bladder is loosened by cringeing."
  • Rachel Labonte, Screen Rant (opens in new tab): 2/5 
    "Though Dakota Johnson makes for a winning Anne Elliot, Persuasion struggles to recapture Austen's magic in its desire to inject a modern touch."

Persuasion trailer

See for yourself what the fuss is all about in the Persuasion trailer.

Martin Shore
Martin Shore

Martin is a Staff Writer with WhatToWatch.com, where he produces a variety of articles focused on the latest and greatest films and TV shows. 

Some of his favorite shows are What We Do In The Shadows, Bridgerton, Gangs of London, The Witcher, Doctor Who, and Ghosts. When he’s not watching TV or at the movies, Martin’s probably still in front of a screen playing the latest video games, reading, or watching the NFL.