It seems that I am the only person on the planet not to have seen the 1995 mini series of ‘Pride and Prejudice’. But it has a rating of 9.3 on IMDb, so it certainly has a legion of fans. Truth be told I only went out and saw this film today because a couple of people from our messageboard were giving Mark and I a hard time for not reviewing it. And I’m sure they’ll be happy to note that I quite enjoyed this latest interpretation of Jane Austen’s much-adapted novel.
It’s surprising how worked up one can get when watching a film centred around people who have nothing better to do than organise the marriages of their daughters, their sisters, their friends and themselves. Of course the script is wonderful – Austen’s dialogue sparkles. Since I haven’t read the book I can’t really ascertain how popular the abridgement will be, but the film stands quite admirably in isolation from the text.
We have a star-spangled cast here. Keira Knightly manages to look into the distance wistfully more than once as Elizabeth Bennett, and has already proven herself to be a skilled actor in less than perfect films such as The Jacket. Matthew MacFadyen (In My Father’s Den) steps into the rather large shoes of Colin Firth (who I’m sure will be remembered as the ‘real’ Mr. Darcy for years to come), although it’s surprising how much emotion and exertion is spent on Elizabeth considering Mr. Darcy isn’t even present for the majority of the film. Rosamund Pike is in attendance, and doing much more for her career than her role in Doom, and I didn’t even recognise the underutilised Jena Malone from Donnie Darko. Brenda Blethyn (Plots with a View (Undertaking Betty)) bounces around in quite an active role, and Donald Sutherland does less bouncing but it doesn’t matter cos he has cool facial hair. Judi Dench (The Chronicles of Riddick) pops up for a short spell to join the ranks of veterans, but she’s a fairly simple character in this film. Whilst Lady Catherine de Bourg has a big impact on proceedings, there was nothing much for Dench to do in such a limited role.
The cinematography is stunning, and manages to breathe life into what could have been a fairly simple and traditional ‘point and shoot’ period film. Vibrant, it never distracts from the performances and only once gets a bit silly when Elizabeth decides to stand on the edge of a cliff in a high wind, in total disregard for personal safety (but that’s okay cos it’s all in the name of marriage and it means she can stare off wistfully into the distance even better).
To be honest I wasn’t desperate for the leading couple to get together, as one should be in romances. Mr. Darcy is so standoffish and devoid of charm, so it was hard for me to find the attraction in his character. Most of his admirable acts occur offscreen, so we really only get to see the romance from Ms. Bennett’s side, which is strange in comparison to contemporary romantic comedies.
Pride & Prejudice has stood the test of time, and it seems there is no end to the remakes and adaptations appearing on our screens (from Bride & Prejudice to Bridget Jones’s Diary). Sure, it’s a damn fine story, but we’ve all seen it before. I guess that’s why the classics are classics, it doesn’t matter how you dress ’em up, they will always appeal.Rating: