Sparks fly when spirited Elizabeth Bennet meets single, rich, and proud Mr. Darcy. But Mr. Darcy reluctantly finds himself falling in love with a woman beneath his class. Can each overcome their own pride and prejudice?
The protagonist Elizabeth Bennett is a witty, sarcastic, somewhat stubborn young lady who really has an opinion about quite a lot including why she would not marry simply because of it is expected of her. Mr. Guy Darcy is a shy, rich, man who defiantly believes there is such a thing as superior birth.Written by
The scene where Bingley rehearses proposing to Jane was improvised. Initially, it was supposed to be shorter, but Simon Woods' was so good that the scene was lengthened. See more »
At the beginning of the film, the Sun is on one side of the house, Lizzie walks from the rear to towards the front of the house, the camera enters a doorway to show Mary playing inside Longbourn, the Sun is low in the sky from the other side of the house. The scene has been filmed as a continuous shot but it is impossible for the Sun to have moved. In the commentary the director explains that the scene was cut as Lizzie passes behind some laundry - not "to indicate a passing of time" - but because he wanted to use the Sun from both sides of the house. He hoped the audience would "not notice the two Suns". It is a goof but it was intentionally done to make filming easier. See more »
Should we rejoice at the inferiority of this rendition?
For the sake of starting with something positive, let's throw out the very biggest problems like historical placement and accuracy. If we can get stupid enough to ignore a boat load of adaptation problems, we might at least admit that this movie was beautifully designed and very well shot. Watch this monstrosity with the sound off, and you'll enjoy some remarkable cinematography.
But no lavish castles or livid sunrises can rescue such a mess.
First, we'd have to cut off the head of the beast in terms of raw materials and leadership. The screenplay borders on jabberwocky, honoring only the most banal of Austen's dialog. And despite being the consummate romance, director Joe Wright isn't able to coax anything more than a lukewarm shrug from any of the key players.
Speaking of key players, let's look at casting.
Keira Knightley (Pirates of the Caribbean, King Arthur) reduces the smart and self-possessed Elizabeth to little more than teen petulance. She strides triumphant through the movie, always armed with some well worn leather-bound tome (we can safely assume it's not Stanislavski), looking for ways to disarm people with her aplomb. Unfortunately, Knightley has a limited number of tools with which to construct the facade. One is a frightening and toothsome grin-laugh thing that turns her into a Rankin/Bass villain (a'la Burgermeister, the Bumble, HeatMiser, etc). The rest of the time, Knightley relies on her jutting jaw and droopy lip to illicit a blatant sexuality (which happens to be completely wrong for this character). However, instead of the intended pouty sex kitten allure, she looks as if a large dose of Thorazine is just kicking in. We half expect a ribbon of drool to escape down her chin at any moment.
Then there is our darling Darcy. No one will ever touch the haughty torment of Colin Firth. Even if we hadn't seen Firth's Darcy, Macfadyen would seem a bit flat. We get precious little of his prickly pride (which is fairly significant to the story, being in the title and all). His too-soft underbelly is exposed the minute he sets eyes on Elizabeth, which irrevocably breaks the seal on his crusty credibility. The most powerful aspect of this romance (in the book & BBC version) is how it so utterly surprises Elizabeth - and us - when he makes that first proposal. Watching Macfadyen spill the beans in his first 10 seconds on screen leaves very little reason to keep watching. He could have benefited from just a bit of Caroline Bingley's over-the-top nastiness.
As for the rest of the cast, they come in two flavors: shallow and boring, or giggly and squirming like cheerleaders in the back of the bus. One has to wonder if it took more than Thorazine to get the rest of the cast through this project, particularly after seeing Donald Sutherland's version of Mr. Bennett. Dreamy and completely disconnected, laudanum appears to be his buffer of choice. Of course we expect Lydia and Kitty to be a bit silly, which they are, but they both seem to be in the throes of a bad Ecstasy binge. Their squealing and twittering is relentless and positively manic. And poor Mr. Collins (actor Tom Hollander, who also plays the deliciously neurotic and ruined Anthony Meredith in Gosford Park) appears to be stoned out of his head and on the brink of full-on paranoia, although trying very ...hard ...not to be. He was definitely capable of giving David Bamber (the A&E Collins) a run for his money in this role. Unfortunately, "big eyes and stick-up-the-arse marionette movement" must have been Wright's direction for the unfortunate Hollander.
Countless smaller irritations abound: The evil Mr. Wickham has roughly 9 words of dialog with which to make us first adore and then despise him (a fancy trick for any actor, let alone someone with no noticeable screen time). Dame Judy Dench is sadly overcast as the fiery old crone, Lady Catherine de Bourg, which is exactly the same as every other role she's been saddled with for the last 10 years. What a tragic waste. And she brought almost too much credibility to the trivial Lady Catherine. Even Charles Bingley's sunny disposition seems to be drawn in crayon. Far from the agreeable innocent we all adore, he comes off as weak and mildly retarded and seemingly incapable of combing his particularly unruly shock of ginger hair. The result is some kind of love child of Liberace and Howdy Doody. Darcy would have never befriended someone like this, and not just because of the hair. Brenda Blethyn (Little Voice, Saving Grace) turns in the only enjoyable performance as the terminally squirrelly Mrs. Bennett. At least she's fun to watch, albeit in the manner of a fuzzy rodent with a firecracker tied to her tail. But she occasionally lacked conviction in terms of her chronic "nervous condition."
When will Hollywood learn that unless you bleed every 28 days or are named Ang Lee, you're not qualified to handle Jane Austen? Go tackle the Brontes. And there must be at least a half dozen more gladiator movies waiting to be made or remade. Heck, take Dickens on another spin around the dance floor! But leave the next Austen adaptation to the BBC, A&E, or Masterpiece Theatre where they might still care more about characters and story than honoring a 5-picture deal for the latest tarted-up teen stars.
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