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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
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This was the worst movie made from a Jane Austen novel, ever. The acting was mediocre. The dialog at first was okay, since there wasn't any for the first 5 or so minutes, but overall it was rather poor. The opening line, one of the most famous lines in English literature, is distorted and not even in an interesting way. The movie didn't do justice to the character of Darcy-he's prideful, makes mistakes, and comes to terms with this in the book, but in the movie he's perfect, no edges, no depth, nothing. He explains his bad behavior poorly and Elizabeth falls for it. OK. I'll stop--Pride and Prejudice is my favorite book, made me want to major in English and I love most movie versions of it. This movie was a waste of my time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I know that many people consider Clueless a brilliant modern-day
version of Emma, but in my opinion, it never rises above being an
average teenage comedy. Pride and Prejudice, despite the source
material, suffers the same fate--it is virtually indistinguishable from
dozens of other teenage comedies (except of course, for the fact that
the characters being Mormon). This version is silly and rather dull,
nothing witty or clever about it. And can someone explain the reason
why in every single teenage comedy, does the rather ditsy female
character need to get constantly hit in the head with a ball (in this
movie, Kitty is hit in the head with a tennis ball, basketball,
football and I believe a few others things)? Perhaps it was funny the
first time it was done, but it is extremely tiresome and extremely
The acting was mediocre at best, terrible at worst. Kam Haskin is okay as Elizabeth, but doesn't have much of the original character's wittiness or strength. Orlando Seale as Darcy at first is great--he's arrogant, cold and insulting, the perfect Darcy. But the minute Darcy declares his feelings for Elizabeth, he turns into an overeager lovesick puppy (At one point, when Wickham and Lydia have eloped and Darcy finds them, Darcy and Wickham get into a fight. They are on the ground pummeling each other, and when Elizabeth and the others walk in, Darcy stops and smiles lovingly at Elizabeth!!). There are some characters missing from this version. As they have made the girls into college roommates rather than sisters, there are no Bennett parents. Lady Catherine de Bourgh is also gone. Charlotte Lucas only makes one very brief appearance. One change they made which actually sat well with me was concerning Collins and Mary. With all their awkward obsequious nerdiness, the two characters are perfect for each other, and I never liked Charlotte marrying Collins. In this version, it is Mary and Collins who get together, and I prefer it that way.
I really did want to like this version. I lived in Provo for a while, and that was about the only entertaining thing for me--seeing all of the old places I used to visit. However, the script was poor, the acting was poor, and it just isn't worth seeing. In my opinion, if you want a fun modern-day version of this story, check out Bride and Prejudice--it's much better done.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
...and perhaps vomiting on herself too. The review on the jacket said
the movie would be compared to Clueless and Bridget Jones, but it's
wittier. Sure, it's like them. Only with third-rate writers and
(Super vague spoilers ahead! Nothing you won't know if you've read the book and/or seen any romance films previously. Just thought I'd be nice and warn you.)
I think the idea behind this movie was, "If you can't make anything original, rip off a classic! Only make it crappier!" What was wonderful about the novel was the anticipation. Will these two stubborn, dynamic characters ever come to their senses and get together? In this version, the emasculated Darcy falls for Elizabeth almost immediately. Oh, and get this - Elizabeth is a budding novelist. Am I the only one who views struggling actors and writers in movies as a sure sign that the filmmakers lack any semblance of skill? Branch out and do some research, people! There is a world beyond Hollywood. I know a lot of people think that Austen's work is comprised of superficial, silly romances. However, she looks like Socrates compared to whoever decided to greenlight this. This movie would have been better if they had strayed from the novel more (a la the aforementioned Clueless and Jones). Can a film be rigid and watered down at the same time? Well, this one managed it.
The good points are the cutie that plays Darcy and the few vague references to general pop culture. (Did anyone else notice that the bowling scene was reminiscent of The Big Lebowski? A far better film, please don't remind me I could be watching something better!) That's not enough to carry this film, so skip it. If you want to see a good adaptation of Austen's work, and a very good movie in its own right, check out Emma Thompson's Sense and Sensibility. It's a period piece, but it blows this piece of fluff away.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I am a HUGE fan of P&P and was disappointed in this film. It was very obviously low-budget with plot problems throughout. The characters were not well-rounded and the story was drastically changed from the book. Elizabeth is supposed to have four sisters, not four friends. That really blew it for me. Also, they made Lydia a horrible person. Lydia is not innately mean, she is naive and immature and selfish, as are most 15-year-olds. I do realize they were trying to update P&P. I don't have a problem with that. It just wasn't very well done. The BBC production of P&P is MUCH, MUCH better. However, if you are in the mood to watch a mediocre romance, pick this up. At least you can sit through it.
If you're attracted to the P&P story line and are entertained by the
idea of the plot working itself out in different cultural contexts,
then this is the movie for you. The context here is the LDS or "Mormon"
culture of Utah. Like "Clueless," the movie's strength comes from
recycling the plot of one of Austen's classic novels. As it is, it's
fun, though rough around the edges.
P&P poses some real challenges when you transport it to a modern setting, since a lot of the things that mattered to women in the Regency period just don't matter any more. By placing the story in the LDS context, the producers subjected the women to a culture with a few crucial similarities. I know very little about the LDS culture, but the film suggests that LDS women *want* to get married and the men expect them to be virgins. This gives the story its foundation.
This is clearly a low budget production. It shows in some of the technical aspects and in the acting, but the actors are at least competent. There's lots of gentle humor, but the movie lacks the sharp wit that is Austen's trademark.
Issues of class and social position (particularly for women) are central to Jane Austen's novels, and any adaptation for the screen cannot be successful without being sensitive to this, whether the adaptation is period or modern. This film fails to present these themes in any meaningful way, and I doubt being a Morman would allow a viewer to see any deeper. How does a young English publishing magnate end up hanging around with a bunch of milk-toast, brainless kids from Utah? How did these kids even get into college (is BYU a decent school?), especially if this is graduate school? My advice: see Clueless (based on Austen's Emma); it, too, is a just a teenage romp, but it makes a real effort to hold a modern mirror up to Austen's world. Besides, Alicia Silverstone is as vivacious as Emma Woodhouse.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is not just a clever romance. It contains strong criticism against a society that punished women for their intelligence, created an upper class for whom working for a living was disgraceful, and operated through social interactions that could make true, intimate friendship difficult. The novel depicts intense pressure on young women to marry, and marry early-- and shows how such marriages can end in tragedy. This movie, however, is almost completely free of serious criticism of Mormon society. Instead, it is full of silly characters doing silly things, wearing foolish outfits and lobbing objects at each other in case you didn't understand that it was supposed to be a comedy. Apparently the pressure to marry that young Mormons feel is really kind of a hoot.
I first got to see this movie when it appeared on television, I
personally found it a cute little flick. I know most people would feel
that this movie is a bad screen adaption...but it is not meant to
follow the book directly. If it had been meant to be it would would
have been taken in a way more serious direction and it would have been
like every other movie that used Jane Austen's book as it's premises.
Yet, like every movie it has it's short comings, I for one, think that it lacked in substance at certain points and didn't always flow right and the acting, at times could come off as sub-par at a few points. But all in all I found it a good movie over-all.
I rated this book a 9/10 due to its creativity and sheer adorableness.
Recently the basis for a well-regarded BBC miniseries, Jane Austen's
1813 comedy-of-manners is transposed to a contempo American college town
in director Andrew Black's splendidly, surprisingly charming "Pride &
Prejudice." Taking inspiration from Amy Heckerling's "Clueless" (loosely
based on Austen's "Emma"), pic transforms its source material into a
bubbly, pastel-colored frolic, while adhering closely to Austen's
essential themes. Bolstered by a strong cast of relative newcomers, pic
is much smarter than the fare usually pitched at its targeted teen
ticket-buyers. However, the lack of name thesps (save for Carmen
Rasmusen in a cameo) means careful grassroots marketing will be required
for pic, which opens in limited release on Dec. 5.
Modern-dress makeovers of "P & P" are all the rage nowadays, with writer
Helen Fielding citing the book as the inspiration for her "Bridget
Jones's Diary" and "Bend It Like Beckham" director Gurinder Chadha
currently at work on the Bollywood-style "Bride and Prejudice," due next
This considerably lower-profile entry, cleverly scripted by Anne Black, Jason Faller and Katherine Swigert, actually represents the latest in a wave of independently-financed films made in and around the Utah area by predominately Mormon (or Latter-day Saints) filmmakers. (It's even subtitled "a latter-day comedy" in the advertising.) However, whereas such niche LDS successes as "The Other Side of Heaven" and the films of Richard Dutcher have distinctly religious themes, "Pride & Prejudice" is a movie in which the characters just happen to be Mormon.
Most non-LDS audiences may not even detect the movie's LDS content, and yet the substitution of a present-day Mormon setting for Austen's Regency England is an inspired one, given the correlation between the two cultures' emphasis on traditional values and, most importantly, marriage.
"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife," Austen famously wrote at the beginning of her novel, before detailing the efforts of her plucky heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, to find the right such man. Likewise, the movie's Elizabeth (Kam Heskin), a student and bookstore clerk with dreams of becoming a famous novelist, oft has marriage on her mind, though she is loathe to admit it.
The four other Bennet sisters from the book, have here been turned into Elizabeth's housemates: sultry Argentinian Jane (Lucila Sola); perpetually squabbling Lydia (Kelly Stables) and Kitty (Nicole Hamilton); and the fatally shy, awkward Mary (Rainy Kerwin). At a party thrown by the charmingly naive Charles (Ben Gourley), Elizabeth is rather disastrously introduced to Will Darcy (Orlando Seale), an expat Brit stopping through Utah on undisclosed business. It's Will's smug "pride" that, in turn, "prejudices" Elizabeth against him, although viewers may realize from the start these two are meant to be. But first Elizabeth settles for the company of with her erstwhile admirer (and inveterate gambler) Jack Wickham (Henry Maguire), as Will is pursued by Charles' strapping sister, Caroline (Kara Holden).
That's a lot of relationships for any movie (especially one running under two hours) to keep track of, but "Pride & Prejudice" does so nimbly. The screenwriters understand the story's appeal lies in its chaotic structure, in the way that its many suitors and their potential mates are constantly pairing off and trading places as if part of an elaborate square dance.
Black, the Scottish-born director whose short film, "The Snell Show," won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2003 Slamdance Film Festival, has a fine sense of pacing and timing; he keeps the movie spinning, so that no one part overstays its welcome.
The winning cast breathes new life into Austen's characters. Spunky Heskin is responsive to the comic stimuli around her like Reese Witherspoon was in the first "Legally Blonde" pic (or, natch, Alicia Silverstone in "Clueless"). And like those actresses, she's well-supported by an array of charismatic scene-stealers, including the irrepressibly emotive Sola, the hilariously repressed Kerwin and the acrobatically goofy Gourley, whose inspired physical-comedy antics dominate the movie's Vegas-set climax.
Tech achievements are well-realized on a modest budget, with Travis Cline's sunny lighting adding luster to the giddy pinks, purples and greens of Anne Black's production design. by Scott Foundas
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