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Pride and Prejudice (2003)
the perils of adapting a precious novel
I love romantic comedies. Throw a girl in the path of a boy, have them miscommunicate, and then fall in love, I couldn't ask for anything more in a movie. Unless of course the movie is supposed to be Pride & Prejudice. Which this film is not. The characters take names from the novel, there are cute mentions of place names, and that's about it.
Pride & Prejudice is a beloved book because it has a smart and sassy heroine who through various trials comes to realize she is flawed. She is lucky because the most eligible man around (who happens to be in love with her) is also flawed, and also comes to realize this. In many ways, and despite his great wealth, they are equals, and they evolve in a similar path. Also, through the narrator, society and marriage are stingingly satirized.
In this film, Darcy is a little prissy, but that's about it (there is no real class issue with him). It's Elizabeth who is haughty and at times cruel. She must deal with public humiliation at the hands of Collins, eat her words after her outburst to Darcy, and realize she is a really bad writer. No one else in the story changes. In this modern setting, none of the girls have any career aspirations (except for Elizabeth whose dream as a nine year old, we are told, was to be a writer), pms is blamed for an eating binge / self-pity wallow, and the end-of-the-story, where-are-they-now montage includes plenty of mentions of children.
In the features section the director says this movie is meant to be a fable.
It seems to me, the filmmakers' (misogynistic) moral is: woman, you may think you are happy being independent, but you are really being proud and silly, and you won't be happy until you have found a home and a husband. WWJD, what would Jane think?
Mystic River (2003)
One word: disappointing
I saw Mystic River before the buzz got really big. I was impressed by the cast, and intrigued by its screenwriter and director. The movie is tough to watch, and I appreciated the fine acting performances (like all the reviews say, Sean Penn is amazing). I was, however, thoroughly disappointed by the underdeveloped female characters (particularly Laura Linney's) the overdone yet empty Christian imagery, and the at times cheesy directing. It seemed as if Clint Eastwood didn't quite know how to reconcile the gritty family drama/tough childhood character study with the murder mystery, and the script certainly didn't help. There wasn't enough good character moments, and at times there was too much plot. The resolution of the investigation was rushed, and then the movie kept going; the second ending was very slow, and jarring. It just wasn't satisfying, it just wasn't good.
The Tango Lesson (1997)
Passionate and beautiful
There are some amazing stories about the tango, and this is definitely one of them. Lyrical account of a woman finding passion and life as she is consumed by her desire for the Tango. Amazing dance sequences and really beautiful cinematography.