Pride & Prejudice


Pride and Prejudice movie posterLet me start by saying this is a story to which I have no attachment. I've never read Pride & Prejudice, never read anything else by Jane Austen, and never seen another version of the film. I watched this without the benefit (or handicap, depending on how you see it) of comparison to the novel or to the much-loved A&E version. I didn't compare Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFayden to Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. So you'll get none of that here. There's lots of it elsewhere, so if that's what you are looking for, it won't be hard to find.

I didn't love this film, but I didn't hate it. This whole genre bugs the shit out of me, which is why I've never bothered with Austen's books (confession: I've never read most of the Bronte sisters' work, either, with the exception of the incredible Jane Eyre). And the things that always bug me bugged me in this film. Characters are less people and more caricatures, the commentary on social class lacks sublety, and the language makes me itch. However, there was some unexpected redemption here. Chiefly, that redemption came in the form of Keira Knightley (Bend it Like Beckham, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl). The wit and spirit and fantastic smile Knightley shows in Pride & Prejudice far outstripped what I had expected, and turned her Lizzie Bennett into a character about whom I actually gave a damn. Without that, I'm not sure I could have stood the film.

The supporting acting was well done as well. Donald Sutherland was endearing as Lizzie's constantly bemused father, and Judi Dench was nothing short of fantastic as the horrific Lady Catherine. I was less impressed with Blenda Blethyn as Mrs. Bennett, thinking she was overacting, but I have been told that was far less the actress and far more the role. I also really liked the mostly-unknown Simon Woods as Mr. Bingley, and enjoyed Kelly Reilly (The Libertine, Mrs. Henderson Presents) as the nasty Caroline Bingley.

I am still unsure as to how I feel about Matthew MacFayden's Darcy. While MacFayden certainly has the seriousness and brooding down, he didn't totally convince me in the scenes where he finally admits his feelings for Lizzie. Without Colin Firth as a comparison, I am not as critical of MacFayden as some other viewers have been, but I can definitely see how the role could have been played to a fuller extent.

The non-acting elements of the film (cinematography, costume design, etc.) were all satisfactory, although the music got to be a little much at points. Most of my major complaints have to do with story line, and there's nobody but Jane Austen to blame for that.

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April 2012

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