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Elizabeth Bennet is a hard-working, intelligent college student who won't even think about marriage until she graduates. But when she meets Jack Wickham, a good-looking playboy, and Darcy, a sensible businessman, Elizabeth's determination is put to the test. Will she see through their exteriors and discover their true intentions? Based on Jane Austen's timeless tale Pride and Prejudice, Bestboy Pictures presents a comedy about love, life and feminine persuasion. Written by
As a devoted reader of the books of Jane Austen AND a card-carrying member of the LDS Church, I became very interested in this "Latter Day" version of "Pride and Prejudice" and finally had a chance to view it the other night. The plot of the movie basically follows the plot of the book with the action transferred to the modern-day campus of a predominantly LDS university.
As with most things, the movie succeeded on some levels and failed on others. I would like to address what I consider to be the failures first and then what worked well. If the filmmakers' goal was to market the movie to an LDS audience, then most of what I have to say in the next few paragraphs is irrelevant. Anyone with a passing knowledge of the LDS culture can appreciate most of the jokes and references. However, if they wanted a "break-out" movie (one that can be appreciated by ALL people) then the movie doesn't work as well. That's not to say the movie is an utter failure but it's missing some important elements that would make it more accessible to "nonMormon" audiences.
The reason we can appreciate "Pride and Prejudice" and the films based on that book is that it envelops us in the culture of that time. We may not understand all its references (things like "entailed away from the family line" or "Are all your sisters out?'") but such things don't annoy us because we have the larger understanding (from our reading of the book) of the context in which the action is occurring. We know it's different and we have some idea as to why it's different.
`Pride and Prejudice: A Latter Day Comedy' doesn't provide the viewer with enough background to allow him or her to appreciate and understand (even if only superficially) the cultural differences. Movie watchers with no understanding of the Mormon culture never get a chance to realize how similar the culture of a modern Mormon university is to the 19th century world of Jane Austen because the filmmakers don't take the time or trouble to point out those similarities. For example, the fact that Elizabeth Bennet is 26 and unmarried in this film is never shown to be unusual. (Contrast this with the movie `My Big Fat Greek Wedding' where the viewer quickly understands that for the protagonist to be unmarried and 30 is very unusual for her culture.) In addition, the average viewer never gets to appreciate the irony of characters like Lydia, Kitty, and Collins because he or she isn't shown how that behavior is at odds with the teachings AND culture of the LDS Church.
One of the reasons Jane Austen's books have remained popular for 200 years is due to her skill in pointing out the hypocrisy, foolishness and frailties of human beings in HER culture. That same kind of scrutiny would have helped this film appeal to a wider audience. Then Lydia's and Kitty's extravagant preparations for "church", their husband hunting antics, the irony of the "Pink Bible" and Lydia's elopement to Las Vegas would all have been better comprehended as behaviors totally at odds with what is considered "proper" and `right' in Mormon culture. Then you would have had an amusing film that all could have learned from and appreciated.
That doesn't mean that what is presented is without value. Overall, the movie is a delightful, amusing romp that aficionados of Jane Austen and the Mormon culture can appreciate. Elizabeth Bennet has always been a delightful literary creation and Kam Heskin creates a full (and flawed) character, charmingly disorganized and impetuous. It is not hard to understand Darcy's fascination with her. Heskin and Seale have good chemistry and interesting interactions and because we root for them to get together, the relationship works. Seale does a good job in portraying the Darcy that Jane Austen readers have come to know and love (or hate). Basically, Orlando Seale's Darcy is a good guy with an unpleasant personality that is nicely contrasted with Jack Wickham, who is a bad guy with an engaging personality (in both the book and the film). One especially nice touch is a scene where Elizabeth talks with Jack over a game of pool. The final frame of Jack as their conversation ends has him framed against an entirely black background foreshadowing some of the less than virtuous actions that he will engage in later.
There's a whole host of other amusing characters: Collins' arrogant righteousness and his constant invoking of his mission president's advice (President DeBourgh!); Charles Bingley's goofy charm; Mary's social ineptitude; Lydia's single-minded pursuit of a husband and that ridiculous Pink Bible (I don't know if such a book exists but if it did, it would probably be a best seller!).
One of the cleverer aspects of the movie was the presentation of quotes from the book as preludes to the action that followed. This and the penultimate shot of Heskin looking at a portrait of Jane Austen is a nice way of tying the movie back to the book.
Overall, I enjoyed seeing characters I knew well translated into a Mormon-type fairy tale. As I said earlier, my only problem with the movie is that it could have been so much more.
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