Sunday, January 08, 2006

Pride and Prejudice (2005)

New Year's Day, 2006: the one screening the Mayfair Cinema in Kaikoura had for the day was this movie - I thought I'd missed my chance to see it on the big screen, so leapt at it (not that the screen in the Mayfair is particularly big). It is a while since I saw the BBC version, even longer since I read the book, but seeing Bride and Prejudice last month provided a nice appetiser.

Of course, the film owes its storyline and dialogue to Jane Austen, so the big question is whether it works. Because this is such a hugely romantic story, the shoes of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy are two of the biggest ever to fill. I remember my first reaction to reading Pride and Prejudice was of being fully in love with Elizabeth: female friends told me rather drily that that was entirely the point. While I could fully buy Jennifer Ehle in the role (and Colin Firth, for that matter) I had more trouble with Keira Knightly - maybe she is simply too young for me to find appealing. It took me a long time to warm to her - not until her showdown with Darcy, where she tells him to bugger off, which I thought she carried off very well. Until then, she'd seemed too, um, girly and insubstantial. Even Aishwarya Rai in Bride and Prejudice had been more believable.

At least I did accept her - I still don't get Matthew MacFadyen as Darcy (although he was great in In My Father's Den) - he never really had that forbidding coldness thing going on that Firth brought to the role, just seemed like a stuffed shirt, and never struck me as at all sexy. What do I know, though! Pretty much everyone at IMDB disagrees with me - there are lots of comments about his raw, brooding and vulnerable performance. Mind you, a lot seem to go for him simply because he is "hot", as an instant reaction, which isn't quite how Darcy is to be taken. So - count me as being in the minority camp: those who don't really see why this Lizzie and this Darcy would ever get it together.

Two characters who really did stand out for me were two of the more minor: Tom Hollander as Mr Collins (I don't even recognise him from his photo) excelled as did Talulah Riley as the hovering on the edge Mary Bennet.

Of course, the whole Lizzie-Wickham romantic detour is pretty much completely absent: kind reviewers attribute it to the length of the movie, but it was well developed in Bride and Prejudice. Curiously enough, as I was watching that movie, it struck me that the whole marriage as market thing which was so vital for the 18th century Brits probably retains that emphasis in India today, which gave a nice sort of logic to shifting the whole story there.


Blogger piksea said...

I saw this on New Year's Eve and I enjoyed it. I was prepared to dislike Keira Knightley as Lizzie Bennett and I couldn't imagine that MacFayden guy could possibly fill Colin Firth's shoes, but I really liked it and them.

I, too, thought the Lizzie/Wickham thing got short shrift, but only people who really love the book would notice. For anyone only passingly familiar with the story, or not familiar at all, I think they got the gist of Lizzie's feelings for Wickham and his relationship with Darcy.

5:01 AM  

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