I usually am up-to-date on my Masterpiece Theater viewing, but I missed this biopic about the Brontë sisters when it first aired a couple of years ago. Fortunately, Mary-Esther suggested it to me, and I’m glad she did! It’s a well-acted, well-made dramatization of one of the most famous literary families in history.
Anyone with even a passing familiarity with 19th century English literature knows, if not of the Brontë sisters themselves, of the work of the two most famous sisters: Charlotte’s Jane Eyre and Emily’s Wuthering Heights. What may be less common knowledge is that their sister Anne was also a published writer or the circumstances of their lives.
The main focus of this TV movie is the years before the sisters found fame when, frustrated with their personal and professional prospects, they all three found their way back home to the Yorkshire parsonage of their ailing father Patrick (Jonathan Pryce; Game of Thrones, Wolf Hall). There, serious Charlotte (Finn Atkins), fiery Emily (Chloe Pirrie, The Crown), and sweet-natured Anne (Charlie Murphy; The Last Kingdom, ’71) must also contend with their equally frustrated but pathetic, neer-do-well, alcoholic brother Branwell (Adam Nagaitis, The Terror).
Writing is as much a pragmatic means to make an independent living as it is an expression of creativity for the sisters, and the movie does an effective job of documenting the sisters’ impressive writing careers in unlikely circumstances. It’s an interesting story in its own right. However, what really shines through in this movie is the superb performances of all the actors depicting the Brontës. Their dysfunctional family dynamic, which is perpetually held hostage to Branwell’s bad behavior, is believable, as is the sisters’ very different personalities but strong bond.
This movie will likely most appeal to those who already have a passing familiarity with the Brontë sisters’ lives, though anyone who likes a good historical drama will enjoy it.
Which Brontë sister is your favorite? What’s your favorite biopic about an author? Which author’s life do you think would make a great movie? Tell us in the comments! As always, please follow this link to our online library catalog to learn more about the movie or to place it on hold.