Thursday, November 24, 2005

Movie Review: Pride and Prejudice

This is the classic tale of love and misunderstanding, which unfolds in class-conscious England near the end of the 18th century. The five Bennet sisters – Elizabeth, or Lizzie, Jane, Lydia, Mary, and Kitty – have been raised well aware of their mother’s obsession with finding them all husbands, thus, securing their futures. The feisty and intelligent Elizabeth, however, strives to live her life in a more independent manner, as encouraged by her father. When wealthy bachelor Mr. Bingley takes up residence in a nearby mansion, the Bennets are in a flurry of excitement over the new, prospective mate for one of the girls.

Eldest daughter Jane, quiet, poised, and beautiful, is intent on winning Mr. Bingley’s heart. Bingley has come to town with his wealthy friend, Mr. Darcy, a tall, handsome young man, who encounters second-eldest daughter Elizabeth at a ball, and the first meeting, has Darcy refusing an invitation to dance with Lizzie. From then on, there are many misunderstandings between the two, but their dislike for one another masks a growing attraction. Lizzie views Darcy as an arrogant and cruel person and this opinion is reinforced when she learns that he caused the end of a promising relationship between her sister, Jane, and Bingley, and apparently mistreated a soldier, Wickham, years earlier.

When Lizzie and Darcy meet, which seems to be quite often, there is a spirited exchange between them as they match words and wits, which is quite comical. Much to her mother’s shock and dismay, Lizzie declines a proposal of marriage from her distant cousin, Mr. Collins. However, a crisis involving the youngest sister, Lydia, opens Lizzie’s eyes to the real Mr. Bennet and the true nature of their relationship.

Although dramatized for television several times, Jane Austen's classic Pride and Prejudice has been a feature film only once before, in 1940, directed by Robert Z. Leonard and starring Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson. Of all these adaptations (I have viewed most of them.); this is the best one I have seen. The story is not new, but this film is a refreshingly new portrayal with exciting, new actors who capture the audience’s attention by strongly appealing to their minds, senses, and emotions.

Keira Knightely does a top-notch job of portraying the intelligent, independent, and beautiful (though in an understated way in comparison to her older sister Jane) Elizabeth. A lively wit and a great sense of humor draws one to this character and this was exceptionally well-done by Keira. The chemistry between Elizabeth (Keira Knightely) and Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen) seems so natural, it adds to the authenticity and beauty of this film. All of the supporting actors and actresses do an excellent job in their respective roles. I loved Brenda Blethyn as the neurotic, obsessed mother and Donald Sutherland as the doting, protective father. Both will make you laugh.

The photography in this film is stunning – especially the scenes of the English countryside. Seeing this movie is like having a beautiful dream with the most romantic ending you can imagine. I give it five of five stars. Yes, do take the children – there is nothing objectionable in this classic, which is what makes it so good – nearly everything is left up to the imagination.

~ Jean M. Heimann, November 24, 2005


Joan said...

I loved this movie,too, Jean. I plan to get the DVD as soon as it comes out.

Ilze Choi said...

I completely agree that the chemistry between Macfadyen and Knightley seemed real. It is a beautiful love story without having to be graphically sexual. I loved the ending because it was so loving and romantic.
Ilze Choi
New Orleans

Rita said...

I can't believe that anyone who has even seen the A&E production of Pride & Prejudice can possibly think this one is the best.

Not that I don't think the actors did a good job, because they did, but the I don't think the movie did the story or the relationship between Darcy & Lizzy any justice.

I'm also kind of partial to Colin Firth as Darcy, I think he played the role beautifully.