Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
IT'S been filmed on several occasions - most recently in the
form of the classic 1995 television mini-series starring Colin
Firth - but Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice remains a timeless
piece of work that continues to attract big audiences.
This new version, directed by Joe Wright and starring Keira Knightley
and Matthew Macfadyen, should continue to do just that, given
that it's a beautifully shot and extremely well-acted affair that
manages to put a fresh spin on the story while remaining faithful
to the origins of the novel.
The film, of course, follows the adventures of Elizabeth Bennet
(Knightley), her four sisters and their attempts to find husbands.
For Elizabeth, especially, the path to true love charts an unexpected
course given that she is pursued by three suitors - the dashing
Mr Wickham (Rupert Friend), the inept Mr Collins (Tom Hollander)
and, most significantly, the handsome but aloof Mr Fitzwilliam
It is her love-hate relationship with Mr Darcy that presents
one of the most classic battles of the sexes ever portrayed in
literature and which has an impact on the lives of several people
around her, including the developing relationship between her
eldest sister, Jane (Rosamund Pike) and her rich suitor, Mr Bingley
Wright's movie bears all the hallmarks of a classic English period
drama, gleefully exposing the folly of the class system while
presenting audiences with another affair to remember.
It is a sumptuous and frequently breezy experience that works
on several levels, providing something for audiences of every
generation to enjoy because of the way it embraces traditional
If there is a criticism, it's that
the central relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy doesn't always
convince, with Macfadyen occasionally lacking the charisma that
Colin Firth brought to the role.
But crucially, this doesn't mar the overall experience and both
Knightley and Macfadyen are fine when playing things spiky.
What lends the film it's biggest heart, however, is the relationship
between Elizabeth and her father, Mr Bennet (Donald Sutherland),
which is both funny and tender - and sure to bring a tear to the
eye come the end of the movie.
The chemistry between Knightley and Sutherland is exemplary and
it is clear that there is a genuine affection between them.
Elsewhere, Dame Judi Dench provides a suitably feisty Lady Catherine
De Bourgh (especially in her scenes with Knightley), while Hollander
provides some wonderful light relief as the socially inept Mr
Collins, as does Brenda Blethyn as the meddling Mrs Bennet.
The look of the film is also likely to impress viewers, taking
in some truly stunning locations in Derbyshire, Wiltshire and
Kent (all of which lend to the authenticity of the piece).
At a time when world events continue to depress, Wright's movie
provides near-perfect escapism that succeeds in whisking audiences
away to a bygone era and a different set of values.
It proves that when told properly, Austen's classic love story
- which still sells in excess of 100,000 copies a year - has lost
none of its power to seduce.
Related stories: Pride
and Prejudice feature (Keira Knightley)
Special feature: The
challenge of casting and shooting
Keira Knightley interview
Matthew Macfadyen interview
Brenda Blethyn interview
Joe Wright interview
Watch clips from the film
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