Pride & Prejudice

"Very Good"

Pride & Prejudice Review


English students of the world rejoice - another reason not to read Jane Austen. Joe Wright's latest incarnation of Austen's classic Pride & Prejudice is a mostly blissful time-traveling bus tour through a giggly and gorgeous English countryside. To your left note the lovely ladies Bennet, all sideways glances, blushing cheeks and innuendo. To your right, lenses at the ready for the dapper, tall, dark, and handsome objects of their affection, Darcy, Bingley, and Wickham! Swoon... Watch them as they play and woo, mismanage and miscarry, repress and reveal. This flighty matrimonial preamble is the pleasure of Wright's adaptation, briskly played in balls and manors. When at its playful best, it dances lightly with humor and delight. However, the film's occasional missteps, rhythm-less moves into the shadows of darker and more serious emotional territory, threaten to sink rather than anchor Wright's film with any of the depth they intend to provide.

For those who are unaware of Austen's novel (it might be helpful to consider that The Lion King is to Hamlet as Bridget Jones' Diary is to Pride & Prejudice), Pride & Prejudice is the story of the Bennet sisters, and particularly, second eldest child Elizabeth (Keira Knightley). These desperate housewives-to-be are in dire pursuit of a man. For the younger girls, and Elizabeth's squawking mother (a superbly erratic Brenda Blethyn), a man's greatest endowment is his wallet. However, for Elizabeth and oldest sister Jane (Rosamund Pike) love is the only currency in which they wish to deal. Convenient then that the objects of their affections, Mr. Bingley (Simon Woods) for Jane, and the infamously standoffish Mr. Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen) for Elizabeth, are moneyed up to the kilt when they ride into town to stir trouble and steal hearts. Elizabeth's very cinematic blindness to Darcy's very British advance is the centerpiece of both novel and film, with all suspense drawn from the "will they or won't they" dilemma.

The film opens gloriously and sails solidly for sometime thereafter, compelled by a freshness in its handling of the period. The camera is relaxed but never stagnant. An early shot following Elizabeth through the Bennet household (echoed later at a dance) has an Altman-esque charm, paying mild attention to sisterly passers-by, eavesdropping, before moving on and regaining focus. The dialogue is snappy ("Believe me, men are either eaten up with arrogance or stupidity") and full of the fruity and literary language one would expect from an Austen adaptation. As if we were on tour, Wright's schedule is full, Austen's agenda dictates that it must be, and in its first half, Pride & Prejudice delights in entertaining us at balls, in fields, in parlors and giggling with teenage girls under bed sheets. The Bennets are charming company, Jena Malone and Carey Mulligan as the youngest sisters offer an amazing energy to the production as a pair of mawkish desperados. Donald Sutherland as Mr. Bennet delivers a fine performance, and is given the film's best line and most poignant moment seconds before the credits roll.

However, when Wright moves away from the Bennet household Pride & Prejudice loses much of its charm and flow. The tour becomes plodding as Elizabeth takes center stage and we are dragged with her to various uninspiring locations across England in a doggedly inevitable march to Darcy. Part of the flaw, dare I say it, is a structural problem inherited from the novel. Darcy and Elizabeth are never given the opportunity to fall in love, so that when their confessions come (and it is not giving much away to say that they do), one wonders when they possibly had the time or inclination to fall for each other so deeply. The only evidence Wright offers is in the unspoken chemistry between his leads, MacFadyen and Knightley, at times almost scorching enough to justify their inevitable union. This pause in the film, away from the Bennet home, pulls from under it the emotional investment achieved in its earlier stages. And unfortunately, the casting of Knightley as the iconic Elizabeth does not help.

Knightley is an intelligent and photogenic actor and for much of the film, particularly when lit by the blue hues of dawn, is a more than adequate protagonist. Yet when the rain comes, the film delves deeper, and more than a wry smile is required, Knightley is lacking. Her shrill hurt and played realization ring false and only confirm the growing feeling that Pride & Prejudice is a fairly superficial exercise. Elizabeth Bennet is a complex character, a contradiction between youth, femininity, wisdom and sass, and Knightley's admirable attempt does Austen's character only infrequent justice.

Joe Wright's adaptation is diligent, faithful, sweeping, full of witty retorts, generally well cast, and yet emotionally unpersuasive. The audience is offered a glance through the looking glass into the lives of the Bennets and their dark and handsome pursuits, but never are we allowed off the bus to fully engage. Sumptuous and diverting, this Pride & Prejudice is delightful, but only hints at being anything more.



Pride & Prejudice

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 129 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 23rd November 2005

Box Office USA: $38.3M

Box Office Worldwide: $121.1M

Budget: $28M

Distributed by: Focus Features

Production compaines: Scion Films, Focus Features, Universal Pictures, StudioCanal, Working Title Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Fresh: 146 Rotten: 25

IMDB: 7.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , , , Debra Hayward,

Starring: as Elizabeth Bennet, as Mr. Darcy, as Jane Bennet, as Mr. Bingley, as Mr. Bennet, as Mrs. Bennet, as Lydia Bennet, as Mr. Wickham, as Lady Catherine de Bourg, as Kitty Bennet, as Mary Bennet, as Caroline Bingley, as Mr. Collins, as Mrs. Gardiner, as Charlotte Lucas, as Betsy, as Mr. Gardiner, as Georgiana Darcy

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.