Chick Flicks: Bonnet babes in period films

My Chick Flicks guide continues on with bonnet flicks!

I will admit a weakness for chick flicks of the bonnet flick genre.  I prefer this term to the more staid "costume drama" or "period film" label.  It makes me laugh, how I'm drawn like a magnet to these sort of movies. It's not the costumes themselves that are the lure - although those are always fun.  But the costumes are a signal of what type of story to expect, usually old-fashioned at its heart.

Jane Austen is the reigning queen of bonnet flicks, but there is so much more beyond Jane Austen waiting to be discovered.  So let's whiz right past the obvious into fresh territory.

North and South - one of my favorite undiscovered gems.  (And no!  It's not the American Civil War tv  starring Patrick Swayze - that's what everyone from my generation thinks of.) Long and more serious in tone than your Jane Austen romp, but swoon-worthy.  Most women I know haven't heard of it.  And the ones who have seen it have loved it.

Daniel Deronda - This movie is delightfully full of characters you have a love-hate relationship with and regularly want to slap, but still somehow care about anyway.  And although it is full of tragic and dramatic twists and turns, there is a sense of happiness at the end.

Little Dorrit - Admittedly Dickens sometimes overwhelms me with twisted plots and many characters, not too mention the frequently indecipherable accents for a Yankee.  But I still enjoyed this one starring Matthew MacFayden of Mr. Darcy fame.

Cranford  - I love these spinster ladies!  Busybodies can stir up so much mischief.  Such great acting, such colorful personalities. 

Nicholas Nickleby - This film seemed to fly right underneath the radar, but it's really lovely.  It's Dickens again and you have the classic orphan tale, but also a fun stint with colorful theater folk, a loyal friendship and a sweet love story.

Vanity Fair - This is a such a colorful visually striking film with Reese Witherspoon as Becky Sharp.

Marie Antoinette - Not your usually bonnet flick.  It's not so much about plot and script as it is a visual, musical and emotional collage.  If you can view it as an evocative piece of art instead of a movie, you'll see it through different eyes.  I was so inspired, I put together a nail polish collection inspired by it.

The Illusionist - This is the kind of quiet movie that sits on a shelf that you've never heard of, but when you finally watch it you're so glad you did. I will admit I had a hard time buying Jessica Biel as a German princess.  But otherwise this is a fascinating and fun movie. 

Miss Potter - Renee Zellwegger inspires as a determined artist who doesn't let herself be held back by everyone else's expectations.

Washington Square - This Henry James adaptation isn't sickly sweet.  It's almost bitter and sad.  But it was a brilliant story and Jennifer Jason Leigh did an amazing job in the lead.

Young Victoria - This movie is slow, sweet, gentle and terribly, beautifully old-fashioned.  I loved it.  And the costumes - amazing!

The Duchess - Happy movie lovers look away.  Those who love a little Keira Knightley pouting, lavish costumes and heart-yanking, join in this drama about extravagant style icon, the Duchess of Yorkshire.  Also love Hayley Atwell in this film.

Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown - Not your typical young woman at the height of her beauty bonnet tale. Queen Victoria in her golden years grows to love an unsuitable rowdy Scotsman.  Amazing acting.  And the fact that it's based on true people makes it more intriguing.

Bright Star - Get out the hankies.  Wait! Forget the hankies.  Get the box of Kleenex.  If you can handle having your guts ripped out by seductively beautiful, poetic, languorous, tragic love, this is your film.  See my full review of this movie.

Recommended double features:
Bawl your eyes out: Bright Star and Miss Potter
Queen Victoria falls in love twice!!!: Young Victoria and Mrs. Brown

Big hair, big dresses: Marie Antoinette and The Duchess


  1. I love this post! I am planning to watch all of these. After every movie that I read on here, I looked them up on Netflix. Thanks!

  2. Your post could not come at a better time. I have been wondering what to do with myself now that Downton Abbey is on hiatus. And you have answered my question with your brilliant recommendations. Time to go update the Netflix queue.

  3. Oh so love PERIOD films...the costumes alone are worth it.
    But I so seldom see any of them...(long story)...
    Thanks for the suggestions, maybe I will ask my daughter to order some for me with thru Netflix.

  4. What a great list! I love this type of thing and I haven't seen most of these.

  5. Hiii, these pics are amazing - I've barely seen any of these and they all have such famous stars in them! I love that orange & blue dress. x

  6. I've seen almost all of these, and I love them, too. I still haven't worked up the courage to see Bright Star, though, despite the fact that it is obviously visually spectacular!