Pride and Prejudice (2005): One Sheet

I should admit up front that I was predisposed to dislike the new version of Pride & Prejudice. My well-documented feelings for Ms. Knightley notwithstanding, I had some serious doubts going into it, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Some people are going to be predisposed to dislike the film simply because it’s not the much-loved 1995 BBC mini-series.

Some people are going to be predisposed to dislike Matthew McFadyen simply because he’s not Colin Firth.

Some people are going to be predisposed to dislike Keira Knightley simply because she is Keira Knightley.

I was concerned that the original trailer billed it as being “from the producer of Love Actually and Bridget Jones’ Diary,” which had me imagining an overly-episodic affair, bouncing back and forth between sixteen individuals’ stories all being told in parallel.

Another concern was that there was nothing on director Joe Wright‘s resume that would give you any indication that he was capable of pulling something like this off. (The same could be said for screenwriter Deborah Moggach.)

And at only 127 minutes, it was bound to be awfully “Cliff Notesy”.

Well, since I don’t have time to write a proper review, let me just throw out a few random thoughts to start the discussion:

  • First of all, I loved it. From beginning to end, top to bottom, left to right. It’s not a perfect film, by any means, but there is so much about it that is perfect that I’m willing to forgive its shortcomings.

  • In a packed theater of over 500 people, I think I was the only lone male. And it was obvious from the faces of some of the gentlemen in line that they were not happy to be there.

    In fact, before the show started I made a quick trip to the bathroom, and as I was standing at the urinal, two men came in and and took up positions on either side of me. The one on my left let out a big sigh and said to the one on my right, “Chick Flick! What did we do to deserve this?”

    But his masculine protestations might have carried a little more weight if he hadn’t been wearing a “Yanni World Tour 2005” T-shirt.

  • Keira Knightley is absolutely stunning in the film. Again, I’ll admit to a certain pro-Knightley bias, but she’s absolutely stunning in the film.

    You’ve got to hand it to anyone who is brave enough to take on the role of Elizabeth Bennet…period. Everyone who has read the book has their own vision of what Elizabeth Bennet should be, and it would be practically impossible for anyone to live up to those expectations.

    I think Jennifer Ehle benefitted from the fact that nobody (at least on this side of the pond) knew who she was. She was a blank slate upon which people could project their own preconceived vision.

    But since Ms. Knightley comes with some previous baggage <ahem>, you’ve got to admire her for taking the risk. (I admire her for other reasons, too, but that’s a topic for another discussion…)

    Well…speaking of those other admirable qualities, there will be some who will contend that she’s too attractive to play Elizabeth Bennet, but as far as I can tell, the only person in the book to intimate that Elizabeth is “no beauty” is Caroline Bingley.

    And even if she’s “not half so handsome as Jane,” as her mother says, when you’ve got Rosamund Pike playing Jane, that’s not much of an insult.

    I was a little concerned that Ms. Knightley was going to be too modern for the role, but she’s not at all. And it will come as a relief to many to know that Ms. Knightley’s was able to keep her habitual lip-pursing in check for the duration of the filming.

    And, finally, did I mention that she’s absolutely stunning in the film?

  • I think the entire Bennet family had a fantastic chemistry. There’s a familial sense of humor underlying all of their scenes together that’s really nice.

  • Keira Knightley and Judi Dench in the same room? Pinch me!

  • The thought occurred to me as I was typing her name just then: Pride & PreJudiDench?

  • Tom Hollander is the best Mr. Collins yet.

  • Claudie Blakely is the best Charlotte Lucas yet.

  • Rupert Friend, who plays Mr. Wickham, looks like Orlando Bloom’s weedy younger brother.

  • Though somewhat “Cliff Notesy” by necessity, the script was excellent. (It apparently benefited from an uncredited sprucing up by Emma Thompson, though she does get a “Special Thanks” at the end of the credits.)

  • I thought the camera work was brilliant, but did anyone think that the recurring spinning theme (during the dance, on the swing, etc) was too much?

  • [SPOILER ALERT] Delaying Lizzy and Darcy’s first kiss until the final frames of the film was a brilliant strategic move. By the time they actually locked lips, the women around me were literally humming with anticipation.

  • I would be interested getting the female perspective on Mr. McFadyen’s Mr. Darcy. I think there are going to be some who really don’t care for him at all, but I actually liked him better than Colin Firth. (Heresy!)

Anyway, what are your thoughts? Am I completely out to lunch on this one?