November 2, 2005

"Pride & Prejudice": Worth Every Penny

On behalf of Romancing the Tome, I'm giving the new "Pride & Prejudice" movie starring Keira Knightley a ringing endorsement. Yes, I'll admit I arrived with only half an open mind to last night's "Girls Night Out" screening of the film in Los Angeles. Ever since I heard that this adaptation (which premieres on Nov. 18th) was in the works, I had a "Why bother?" attitude. After all, how could anyone improve upon (or even come close to rivaling) the BBC mini-series starring the unforgettable Colin Firth? How could a movie capture all the brilliant humor and knee-buckling romance in just two-and-a-half hours? By the end of the screening, however, I would have gladly watched it two more times in a row without interruption.

Think of this movie as a companion piece or supplement to the BBC miniseries. It doesn't necessarily outshine that version, but it definitely measures up in its own right. I like to think of it as a "quick fix" alternative for those times you simply don't have six hours to watch the miniseries straight through. There are no egregious edits in condensing the story, and the film offers up portions of dialogue from the book that weren't included in the BBC version, giving it a fresh new appeal.

The movie delivers a more rustic, unpolished, and I daresay realistic depiction of life as Austen might have known it. (Unkempt hair, manure in the streets, etc.), and there's a startling contrast between the Bennetts' rural existence and the posh surroundings at Netherfield and Pemberly.

Knightley plays a younger, perhaps more sassy version of Elizabeth Bennett than was played by Jennifer Ehle in the miniseries. As Mr. Darcy, Matthew MacFadyen (a.k.a. "He who is not Colin Firth") took a while to grow on me -- but isn't that the point, really? By the end, just the very sight of him made me damn near fall out of my chair into a blob of smitten-flavored Jell-O. True, there's no shirtless "dip in the lake" shot of Darcy like we saw from Firth, but there are plenty of other swoon-worthy moments to keep romantics satisfied. Beautifully directed, the last 30 minutes, in particular, elicited plenty of audible sighs from the audience, from Bingley's endearing proposal to Jane, to a vision of Darcy so stunningly beautiful that you may need defibrillator paddles to revive yourself. Seriously. Don't miss this one. -- Amy


  1. Anonymous3:05 PM

    Great news. I can't wait! Get ready to see it again the next time I'm in L.A. --Kim

  2. Anonymous11:21 AM

    Amen. The rapture is not to be missed. Nice review!

  3. This version is FABULOUS--I also adore the BBC version and was more than skeptical at first. The sight of Matthew MacFayden coming through the morning mist at the close of the film is incredible-- you will truly become the whole dizzy, weak-kneed, swooning package. Love the musical score too!

  4. Anonymous2:10 PM

    Yes! I love that it was a completely different approach. It would've been foolish to just copy the Firth P&P anyway. I can't wait to see it a 2nd time. Bliss! --Kim

  5. Anonymous8:16 PM

    Thanks to this new version of P&P, I read the book, and also sought out the BBC version. Hate to admit I have become a bit obsessed! I love the way MM portrayed Darcy's demeanor more as shyness than arrogance or pride. The story is so well constructed and a visual delight--the score is fabulous, too. I find myself daydreaming missing chunks of implied dialogue between what is revealed in the movie.

  6. Anonymous3:56 PM

    Matthew Macfadyen becomes Darcy in this movie. I have watched it a zillion times. Worn out the dvd actually. This is the only movie and actor that I have actually felt this way about. I recite the lines and go on the computer daily.He is absolutely mesmerizing! Can't get enough of him!

  7. I had the opportunity to watch P&P for the first time two months ago. Something very silly, especially because the movie was released 4 years ago!! At end of the movie, I thought: Excellent movie. Excellent director, but Matthew Macfadyen melted my heart. Obviously, he is a tall, attractive, gorgeous man (for the pleasure of our eyes!), but a very good actor too. I have been buying his movies and series. Sincerely, it is a pleasure to see his performances, excellent actor. What I love most from him is his way to express what he is thinking or feeling through his eyes with no words at all. That feature conquests my heart from an actor. If he has the opportunity to read this little message (you never know!!), I would like to send him a big lovely hug and say to him: "thank you for giving us the pleasure of your performances and please do not stop doing romantic movies. They suit you perfectly!!" My love for you.