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Henry Golding’s performance in ‘Persuasion’ praised despite bad reviews

Critics have not been enjoying Netflix’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel
“Persuasion.” Henry Golding’s performance appears to be one of the film’s only bright spots.

“Persuasion” follows Anne (Dakota Johnson) as she reconnects with Captain Wentworth (Cosmo Jarvis), a man she broke off her engagement with several years ago. Golding plays William Elliot, Anne’s cousin and secondary love interest.

Netflix made “Persuasion” available for streaming on July 15, and it has since received mixed reviews from fans and critics. It has a 34 percent Tomatometer rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes but a 66 percent rating from general audiences.

In her review for Slate Magazine, Anna Nordberg described the film as a “mess of an adaptation that mangles the spirit of Jane Austen’s exquisite, late season novel.” There were, however, “flashes of what could have been” throughout the movie.

“Nowhere is this clearer than in Henry Golding’s exuberant portrait of Mr. Elliot, which feels like it was beamed in from a different movie,” Nordberg wrote.

Constance Grady, a culture writer for VOX, wrote that the film was “simply bad.”

“It is boring. It’s not romantic. It’s not funny. It’s not sad,” Grady wrote in her review.”

She added that the film “picks up briefly when Henry Golding arrives to play Mr. Elliot.”

Golding’s performance has also received praise on social media.

One Twitter user felt that the “Crazy Rich Asians” star should have played the main love interest.

The film’s director, Carrie Cracknell, explained why she cast Golding as Mr. Elliot in an interview with Town & Country.

“It just seemed to me that Henry had this incredible combination of charisma, intelligence, confidence, and wit, which felt like such a fresh thing for a Jane Austen story,” she recalled. “I had this brilliant conversation with him, and he was excited about the possibility of playing Mr. Elliot.

Golding told Town & Country that he had fun with the character.

“I think he’s far less complicated than we would imagine he is,” Golding said. “He’s one of those people who knows what he wants and is going to mold the universe to his will. Within the story, he has his goal and he’ll do anything to get it—or to get into the pants of his perspective target. For me, it was a joy to know that as much as the character goes through, he’s not going to end up with lady. I could just have fun with that.”

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