So many updated versions of Jane Austen’s novels have come my way over the past couple of decades that when I hear of a new one these days, I find it hard to muster up the excitement with which I once greeted the prospect of, say, an Emma transplanted to a Beverly Hills high school, or a Persuasion set in the world of WASP philanthropy.
Perhaps that’s why my heart sank, just a bit, when I heard about Townhouse Confidential, a new screen update of Austen’s most popular novel, this time centering on the struggle to pay for real estate in New York’s boho-chic West Village. Or, as the movie’s website inevitably puts it, “Pride and Prejudice Meets Sex and the City!”
The movie is based on a self-published 2020 novella by Rosalind Resnick, who also wrote the screenplay, but nothing about this project feels fresh. Judging from the uninspiring trailer, which seems to give away virtually the entire plot, the New York settings will feel familiar to those of us who endured 2020’s limp Modern Persuasion, while the gentrification-vs.-authenticity theme follows in the footsteps of both Ibi Zoboi’s very good young adult novel Pride and Lifetime’s disappointing Pride and Prejudice: Atlanta.
To be fair, there does seem to be a scene involving Elizabeth, Darcy, some mafiosi, and at least three guns that I don’t remember from Jane Austen’s novel, but I’m not convinced that’s going to be an improvement on the original.
My expectations are rock-bottom. Needless to say, this will not dissuade me from tuning in. Does it ever?