This is pretty much the 19th century's version of Jerry Springer.
I shouldn't even be upset that this film was so boring. What did I expect? If the name Jane Austen is on anything it pretty much means the same thing -- some independent-thinking female in the 19th century is going to have feelings for one guy, be pursued by another she doesn't like, then finally hook up with the right one in the end. And of course, somebody is always having financial difficulties that complicate things. This is pretty much the 19th century's version of Jerry Springer.
In this case, Fanny Price (Frances O'Connor) is brought to Mansfield Park by her rich cousins, Sir Thomas Bertram (Harold Pinter) and Lady Bertram (Lindsay Duncan), and made to feel inferior because she comes from humble origins. Naturally, Fanny is prettier than the two Bertram girls, Julia (Justine Waddell) and Maria (Victoria Hamilton) which should have been a huge warning signal to the elder Bertrams that Fanny was going to cause problems. One of their kids looks like a poodle and the other one has the personality of a window shade. Don't go inviting the poor, beautiful girl into the house to stay forever. Go for the blind, hideous-looking cousin with the limp.
What did they think was going to happen -- that the rich, dashing Henry Crawford (Alessandro Nivola) was going to arrive at Mansfield Park and say, "I'd like to marry the poodle"? Naturally, he wants Fanny. He's got money; what does he care if she's broke? Unfortunately, Fanny doesn't like him and suspects that he and his sister, Mary (Embeth Davidtz), are schemers. Naturally, nobody else suspects them because money breeds stupidity and people of the same class just inherently trust each other.
Fanny loves Edmund (Jonny Lee Miller) who has practically spent his entire life up in Franny's room listening to her read her writing to him. Does anyone in the family clue in to the fact that maybe Fanny and Edmund are growing close? Of course not. Just about everything bad in this film happens because somebody leaves a door slightly ajar at an inopportune time. You'd think that after a while they'd start making sure the doors were closed, but they don't. It's actually a wonder they don't start smacking each other over the head with furniture, but I guess they hadn't quite progressed to the level of civility we've established in modern times.
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