If you are an active movie reviewing you-tuber like I am than your world has been overloaded with Batman v Superman lately and frankly I’m a little bit sick of it. I needed a break!! So I decided this week to profile something on the other end of the spectrum and talk about Jane Austen- specifically 2005’s Pride and Prejudice.
I also reviewed the recent Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which I thought was a lot of fun. It can be a little bloody so probably only for older kids and teens.
There are a lot of things that make 2005’s Pride and Prejudice special. Telling a story that has been so frequently told in cinema is challenging. In some ways any Austen adaptation faces the same problems as Christmas Carol. The story is great but how do you make it feel fresh and new? I guess you can add zombies or you can focus the characters in a slightly new way. The latter is what director Joe Wright does very well.
By casting Kiera Knightley in the role of Lizzy Bennett, Wright made Lizzy the star of the movie as opposed to many other versions where Darcy is the focus (Olivier and Firth version for example). Here the focus is on Lizzy and Darcy played by Matthew Macfadyen comes across as more shy than the prideful jerk of other versions. You have a feeling he is more misunderstood than a condescending man we usually see.
Because they go for this softer version of Darcy it can make Lizzy seem a little bit harsh and judgmental which is something I’ve never felt before with Pride and Prejudice. Like I said with Lizzy being the focus of the movie you feel that she has more repenting and change than Darcy and this is often symbolized through the cinematography in the film. For example, we see Lizzy in a room of Greek statues when she is going through the most change and needing to be smooth and less rigid.
Macfadyen and Knightley also have great chemistry which is essential to this kind of movie. We like both of these people so we want to see them happy. This entices us into the story and their journey together. The acting across the board is excellent with Brenda Blethyn, Donald Sutherland, Rosamund Pike, Jena Malone and Judi Dench all putting up great work.
Director Joe Wright is known for his gorgeous visual storytelling and he shows that here. It is a different take on Austen with an earthier feel to it. The hems of the dresses get dirty and you see farm animals and people perspiring. I liked that. He also uses light beautifully throughout the film.
There are a few things that hurt the film a little bit. The main problem is I actually think it could be about 20 minutes longer. While Lizzy and Darcy are well developed characters, some of the side characters are left underdeveloped. For example, Wickham isn’t in the film enough to feel like a true villain and it’s not necessarily believable that Lizzy would stick up for him on such a brief acquaintance. Lizzy’s parents could also be a bit more drawn out and Mr Collins is more creepy than funny.
But that aside it’s still a very entertaining film. In addition to looking gorgeous, it has a terrific cast with great chemistry between the leads. It’s a unique take on one of my favorite novels, giving Lizzy the more repentant role rather than Darcy. I like that. It may be tough to convince your family to watch a period piece like this but if you can I think they will be rewarded
for it. The story of Pride and Prejudice has a nice lesson for all of us- that we all judge on first impressions but we shouldn’t hold on to those judgments for too long.
My favorite Pride and Prejudice film is the Collin Firth 1995 BBC series but I’m not always up for a 5 hour movie so this is a good second option!
If you can convince your family to watch this film let me know how it goes! What is your favorite Jane Austen film? Please share in the comments section. Thanks!