Pride & Prejudice (2006)

Pride & Prejudice

Film review by: Witney Seibold

 

            It’s based on the infamous and oft-filmed Jane Austen novel (10 versions according to IMDb). I have not read any Jane Austen, and yet I have a completely unfounded and pathological hatred of her: the fluffy romances, the costumes, the pre-Victorian-era-upper-class-British-angst… it puts me off. And it’s not merely because I am a male, although I’m sure that has much to do with it. In this new film version (directed by Joe Wright, and featuring the fluff-filled BritRomCom crew behind Bridget Jones and Love, Actually), there was so much girly giggling, so many scenes of putting on dresses and tightening bodices, so much ribbon shopping, dancing, ballrooms, carriages, rivers and frolicking, so many gorgeous sunsets and talk of marriage, that for a few moments in the middle, I think I had actually become a woman. My testosterone kicked back in eventually, and I left the theater in my original form…. But man, that Jane Austen has creepy womanly powers we males could never hope to fathom.

            But my gender ignorance aside. For those of you who don’t know the story: Lizzie Bennet (Keira Knightley from Domino) is the second of five daughters (including Rosmund Pike from Doom, and Jena Malone) who, despite being happy and suriving on their modest means, are desperate to marry rich husbands, shrill mummy (Brenda Blethyn) being the most eager. Lizzie is strong-willed, and actually wishes to marry for love, despite the class restrictions of the day. When a one Mr. Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen) enters the lives of the Bennets, he and Lizzie immediately strike up a Beatrice-and-Benedick flirtation, fating them for romance. Sadly, some bad advice on Darcy’s part forces the family into turmoil, and they spend much time wrestling over class issues borne out of pride and the other thing. Darcy then tries to make good. Of course it all works out in the end, but we get to see a lot of brooding along the way.

            The brooding is probably the film’s weakest point: far, far too much screentime is given to Knightley as she mopes, waiting for things to work themselves out. For a film about female empowerment, she doesn’t seem to be a very take-charge kind of woman.

            However I must state that this is the best Pride & Prejudice film I have seen. It’s mostly brisk and bright and clear, the acting is fine, and the style frank. And some of the supporting performances are golden, most notably Tom Hollander as a put-upon parishioner, and Donald Sutherland as the father of all these girls, who is collected and intelligent in his parental decisions. Despite my whining, I recommend this film.

November 11th, Focus Features

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Published in: on August 7, 2008 at 8:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

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