Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Starring:
Keira Knightley, Donald Sutherland, Brenda Blethyn, Matthew MacFadyen, Jena Malone
Directed By :
Joe Wright
Grade
A-

After the BBC mini-series that captured the Jane Austen love story so well, one had to wonder how a theatrical recapturing would fare. Considering that Jennifer Elhe and Colin Firth had established themselves as the roles of Elizabeth "Lizzie" Bennett and Mr. Darcy, I had to wonder how Knightly and MacFayden would be able to set their own mark. Also, I had to wonder how a story that took six hours to tell well the first time would fit into two hours.

The story of Pride and Prejudice revolves around the Bennett family, a lower class family whose main concern seems to be to try and marry off their five daughters to men of any decent standing. When two rich men, Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy, arrive locally, they are sought after by the shrill and annoying mother. Bingley proves to be a kind man who quickly falls in love with the eldest daughter, Jane. At the same balls that Bingley and Jane find time to develop their relationship, Jane's sister, Lizzie, has some less than pleasant contact with Bingley's good friend, Mr. Darcy, a prideful and opinionated man.

The story takes a twist when Darcy convinces Bingley to break off his relationship with Jane and then reveals to Lizzie his own feelings. During this revelation, he makes it quite clear that he feels love for her despite many conditions that would normally convince him otherwise. It's at this point that one might think the relationship is dead and over, but further situations draw the two people back together.

While I can't help but compare this cast to the ones from the miniseries, I would say that they do manage to offer a bit of a revised take on the characters. MacFayden's Darcy is far less stoic, but not without retaining his reserved pride. Knightly's Lizzie is far more affected by her emotions and has no problem hinting at what's deep inside as the scenes play out. While she doesn't capture the elegance and maturity that Elhe played the role with, her take on Lizzie is a far more impassioned character. Sutherland's Mr. Bennett shows a dry wit, but at times reveals a certain level of emotional distance inherent in being the only man in a house of women. It's as if he's trying to find those rare moments of silence within the depths of his own mind.

This take on Pride & Prejudice shows a bit more emotion and affection from the main characters. There is more care taken with moments of foreshadowing and metaphor. I give the director a lot of credit for trying to offer up nonverbal solutions to wrap up certain story elements without drawing the conversation out too long. While some of the story was obviously trimmed down, the way its handled is done with enough style and grace to make the viewer feel like they're not missing much. In fact, I would say that some effort has been made to offer a few additional insights to the characters, even if it is in the way they look at each other or the way they star off into the distance.

Pride & Prejudice offers up a good range of emotions, including a good sense of humor in the way the characters are portrayed. Fans of the miniseries should be pleased on how this rendition takes the source material and makes it work without feeling like an edited version of the miniseries. If you love the book, you'll enjoy this take on it.

- - Kinderfeld

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