With that in mind I was consistently surprised by this version of the Jane Austen novel. The dialog-reliant tale of romantic misunderstanding and class relations has been made into a film that is faithful at least in spirit, but is refreshing in it's presentation.
Casting is key. The Bennett family, at the center of the story, is a wonderful example in itself of ensemble acting when it works. A mix of seasoned professionals and new faces (though mostly the former), there is wonderful chemistry between them.
Kiera Knightly's portrayal of Lizzie, the central character, is marvelous. Knightly, a talented and achingly gorgeous creature, has everything it takes to place herself in both the character and the time period, while remaining a real, identifiable point of reference for the character. Some of her mannerisms seem a bit modern and unusual for this type of film. When she meets a handsome male character for the first time, she sneaks a peak at his bottom. It may not sound very significant, but moments such as that, and there are many, give her character the truth, the timelessness, it needs. This skill extends to many of her fellow performers. True to the time, accessible to modern eyes, timeless. Many scenes have the breeze and honestly of a superior teen comedy.
The camera-work, by Roman Osin, is equally exemplary. The camera moves quite frequently, more than one would expect. The colors register beautifully, particularly in outdoor scenes. And perhaps the most inventive scene of all would be the one with the swing at the gate. (If you want to see what I mean, you'll just have to go and see it. I can't do it justice with a description)
Don't forget, of course, that this is still a period film, and it does still feature many of the hallmarks (some might say pitfalls) of the genre. Personally I enjoy such films even if they do consist mostly of medium shots of Emma Thompson in a corset, suffering by the window. There is the presence of Dame Judi. Nothing against her, she is a predictable presence, though a welcome enough one. The men in the film are also stock character types, but this may be something to accept. After all, it's women's film.
I would not suggest this film to a casual viewer, but I do advise seeing the film to anyone with a decent attention span and an open mind. In some small but enchanting ways, it's a fresh take on a classic story and a genre known for being predictable. Hopefully we will be seeing more from it's director, Joe Wright, very soon.