Pride & Prejudice Movie 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.

Cast & Crew

Director :

Producer : , , , Debra Hayward,

Comments

The Passer by's picture

The Passer by

pride and prejudice is the kind of movies that express the deepest meanings in life .this movie capture ur heart despite it's abslot simplicity on its subject because it takes about somthing we all miss the inside magic that once had glowed iside us MrDarcy loved Elizabis not physically but spritly . she wasnt the the most handsome or the wealthiest girl but she was the shiniest girl from the inside . he frist wise speaking and her quiet polite way in taking revenge of whate he said about her . he loved her simplicity and her intelligent he talked to her about three times before he loves her then he annonced his love to her . he seems to be a man that all of the girls want him but he was a selective man and very wise . he was so (unpleasnt felow) as it said , very strong , had a rugge shap and seems to be ruthless , and discreet but in the moment of love he is very week and very affectionate the feelings that the movie created on me is enormous that i realy ca not descriped but i hope that i have given a point in what true love is that this movie expressed

7 years 12 months ago
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samanthaM's picture

samanthaM

First of all I would like to say that although this was well written it lacks the understanding of love. You say that Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy never have a chance to fall in love. That is not true. Darcy knew there was something about her the minute he met her and as the story progresses and he begins to see her more and learn about her character, he falls for her. He may not be in love with her the first time he proposes, her response to his proposal makes him look inside himself and learn more about himself. Elizabeth in turn could not stand Darcy and rejects him, but after she reads the letter that he writes her and she understands what the truth is about WIckham and Mr. Bingley, she starts to see Darcy for who he really is.This is the point of the story that Darcy and Elizabeth begin to see each other. At Pemberely there is a certain je ne sais quoi between the two. It is an attraction that they are both trying to keep hidden from the other. This is where they both fall madly in love with each other. Darcy realizes that he cannot stand to be withouth Elizabeth and after Elizabeth finds out about what he did for Lydia, she realizes that he is the total opposite of what she had thought. He is actually the type of man she has always wanted to find. When Lady de Bourgh visists Elizabeth and tells her Darcy is going to propose, Elizabeth knows that he is still in love with her, and it gives her hope. Just the same, when Lady de Bourgh visits Darcy and tells him about Elizabeth's response, it gives him hope that she might marry him.By the time he proposes again, they have both fallen deeply in love with eachother.I do not understand where you get off saying that they did not have the oppurtunity to fall in love. People can fall in love within the first five minutes of meeting, and if you do not believe this than you have no understanding of what romance and love is, and should probably not be writing a review on a story that involves these two. As to you saying Keira Knightley was not a good choice for Elizabeth Bennet, I heartily disagree. I am a true fan of the novel and was a bit weary about her playing the role of my favorite heroine. However, I feel that she did and amazing job and really captured the character of Elizabeth Bennet. She understood that Elizabeth was complex and different from all other women of that time, even different from most women today. Knightley portrayed Elizabeth better than I had hoped. She would not have been nominated for an Academy Award if her performance was not truly amazing. By saying she did not do the character of Elizabeth Bennet justice, are you implying that the Academy is blind about who they nominate for Academy Awards? Yes, she is terifically beautiful, but her beauty really brings life to the screen. It does not take away from Elizabeth, and besides Elizabeth Bennet is supposed to a beautiful woman, one that many people overlook because she is so opinionated. Your review was an utter disappoint and did not give the movie enough credit for portraying the novel with a more modern twist. I think maybe you should stick to something else you are better at, because apparently you are not a true fan of the movies.

8 years 5 months ago
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Pride & Prejudice Rating

" Good "

Rating: PG, 2005

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