So what did I love about this one? I loved that it was true to the book. Now, I've read here and there that this movie is flawed because the subplots are supposedly more interesting than the main story line, that there is something wrong with this movie because viewers care more for the minor characters than the major ones. I disagree. Here's why. This would only be a problem or a flaw IF the movie gave more screen time to the minor characters (Nora Rowley, Hugh Stanbury, Aunt Jemima Stanbury, Dorothy Stanbury, Brooke Burgess, Reverend Gibson, Camilla French, Arabella French, Mr. Glascock, etc.) than Anthony Trollope devotes to these same characters in his novel. If you've read the book, you KNOW that Anthony Trollope spends a great deal of time with these characters. In particular, he gives GREAT attention to both Dorothy Stanbury and Nora Rowley.
These two young women receive equal attention to Emily Trevelyan. The successful romances of Nora and Hugh and Brooke and Dorothy provide contrast to the unhealthy deteriorating romance of Louis Trevelyan and Emily. Viewers see--briefly see--the romance between the "main characters" of Emily and Louis. But except for the first few minutes and the last few minutes--these two are anything but happy and together. The obstacles for this couple all occur after the wedding, after the honeymoon, after the birth of their son. In fact, he's a toddler when the problems begin. Essentially, I see Emily and Louis as one story line, true, but not necessarily the "main" story line. The other story lines receive equal time and attention in the novel, and, it is only fair that they receive the same amount on screen. I don't think Trollope thought in terms of "major" characters and "minor" characters. Not the way we do. I think there is enough depth and substance in his characters that even so-called "minor" characters feel real and interesting.
Thoughts on the Sub-plots. The sub-plots of He Knew He Was Right provide balance and contrast. Without these storylines, He Knew He Was Right would be EXTREMELY dark and depressing.
Here are how the subplots are connected. Louis has a best friend, Hugh Stanbury, and Emily has a younger sister, Nora. The two are often together because they spend a lot of time with Emily and Louis. The two already are in love when the movie begins--though he's not officially spoken or declared his love for her. She feels something for him, he feels something for her. And it is only his lack of status that is keeping him from asking her to marry him. When Louis separates from his wife, he sends her to the country. Emily, Nora, and little Louis stay with Hugh's mother and sister...introducing viewers to part of Stanbury's family.
There is a richness in Trollope's novel that translates very well in this adaptation.
One other thing I'd love to mention about this adaptation is that I just LOVE the narration. I love how the characters speak directly to the audience, how they look at the camera, making excuses for their behavior.
Watch He Knew He Was Right
- If you want an introduction to Trollope
- If you enjoy period dramas; It has tragedy, comedy, romance, and drama
- If you want to reward yourself for making it through the novel
Reverend Gibson in a TOUGH moment
© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews