I watched this movie on Friday morning but it’s taken me forever to write the review because I’ve had work and then cleaning and painting around the house. I remember when I first got the DVD, I would watch it over and over and take billions of caps and then go through them quickly almost as if I were watching it again. My obsession has died down since then (I only watch it every few months instead of every few days) but I still love this movie to bits.
I love the cast (with a couple exceptions). I love the beautiful music. I love the cinematography. There are always so many things going on in the background of a scene that I notice more on almost every viewing. I love how conditions are not always perfect and pristine- there’s mud, dirt, and mess all around! It makes it seem so much more realistic. As a standalone film, it’s nearly perfect.
As an adaptation, however, I must admit it is not so perfect. I know things have to be cut for time and I accept that. I don’t miss the Hursts or Aunt Philips. I like many of the changes like the first proposal scene in the rain (film is a visual medium, after all). I don’t mind Lady Catherine coming to Longbourn when the Bennets are going to bed (modern audiences wouldn’t know that her coming in the morning when it’s “too early for visitors” is so bad). But other things to bother me. Mr. Bennet and Georgiana Darcy are almost unrecognizable from their book selves, Wickham is barely around and has no charm to speak of, and the scenes written by Emma Thompson don’t do much for me. Yet, the positives outweigh the negatives for me and I continue to love this movie.
Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet
Of all the actresses who have played Lizzy, she was the best at showing her growth from girl to woman- she thinks she’s a great judge of character in the beginning but after Darcy’s letter she looks deep down inside herself and realizes maybe her first impressions aren’t so accurate after all.
Matthew MacFadyen as Fitzwilliam Darcy
I think he is a stud muffin and he acted his part very well and had great chemistry with Keira Knightley. Unfortunately, this adaptation made Darcy’s problem more shyness rather than pride. As a film, it worked, but as an adaptation it bothered me because Mr. Darcy is far from shy.
Rosamund Pike as Jane Bennet
THIS is the beautiful Jane that I imagined when I read the book. Although Keira Knightley is also gorgeous, they made sure to dress her in ugly clothes so Jane always stood out. And she was always restrained in Mr. Bingley’s presence so you could see how one might think her indifferent.
Simon Woods as Charles Bingley
While the 1995 Bingley wasn’t so bright, this Bingley was a complete and utter BUFFOON! Yes he was nice and wasn’t bad looking, but really? How did he make friends with Darcy? How did Jane fall for this idiot?
Donald Sutherland as Mr. Bennet
Another negative for me. I could ignore his bad British accent but not his total character change. His Mr. Bennet was still resigned and somewhat sarcastic, but made into a loving husband and father! He seems to still have a physical relationship with his wife and although exasperated with her at times, he showed he still cared. And after he stops Mary’s bad piano performance at the Netherfield Ball, he finds he and comforts her. It was nice as a movie, yes, but it wasn’t Mr. Bennet.
Brenda Blethyn as Mrs. Bennet
I loved her Mrs. Bennet! She captured her ridiculousness, shrillness, and obnoxiousness without becoming a caricature. She was perfectly annoying and embarrassing yet she didn’t have a fakey, over the top voice that could break glass!
Tallulah Riley as Mary Bennet
She played a cuter, more sympathetic Mary. Rather than a pedant, she was more of an awkward geek who could only really play scales on the piano. She was like the Regency version of an emo or a Goth, with her always pouty expression and dark, plain clothing.
Carey Mulligan as Kitty Bennet
My favorite Kitty. She was so cute and silly but after Lydia left she toned it down. The 1995 Kitty was not bad at all but I found Carey Mulligan to be more memorable.
Jena Malone as Lydia Bennet
I think I like the 1980 Lydia a bit more but Jena Malone was also good in the part. Her accent was much better than Donald Sutherland’s and she actually looked like a silly teenager and not a slutty, obnoxious woman pretending to be a teen like in another version…I almost feel bad for her when she is riding away with Wickham and waving and he pushes her down into her seat. Almost…
Kelly Reilly as Caroline Bingley
No sister for her in this one but she admirably was nasty enough for both. She always wore the latest fashions and was really an “ice queen.” I like that they gave her and her brother both red hair so they really looked alike.
Judi Dench as Lady Catherine de Bourgh
She was probably too old for the part (would she have been in her 50s when she gave birth?) but otherwise I liked her performance. She was pretty intimidating and still full of vigor so I could understand why so many people were afraid of her.
Rupert Friend as George Wickham
Should I call him “Orlando Bloom Lite” cuz that’s what he reminds me of…He’s not bad-looking but his features are a bit feminine. He’s in the movie very little and he mostly spends it whining to Elizabeth about his misfortunes. How she seemed to be attracted to him in that short time and with his bratty personality, I don’t know. I think since they gave him limited scenes it should have been all the more important to get a really attractive, memorable guy in the role, but alas, they did not.
Claudie Blakely as Charlotte Lucas
I liked her acting in the part, but not everything they did with the character. It was good that they actually made her look plain so you don’t think it’s ridiculous to see her settle for Mr. Collins. I like her friendliness with Elizabeth. I don’t like the scene of her telling Elizabeth about her engagement. And I don’t like that after she’s married, she practically becomes another Lady Catherine worshiper along with her husband! She was not as obsessed as him but you do see a bit of her “awe” and it irks me!
Tom Hollander as William Collins
He was the total opposite of Mr. Collins’ physical description (short and skinny and actually too handsome) but they went with it and used his height to their advantage for laughs and it really worked! He was hilarious and so socially awkward I actually was glad he seemed to find happiness with Charlotte. When he takes the ladies to see Lady Catherine, he inadvertently curtsies with them and then doesn’t know what to do. If you look at him even when he is in the background, he is usually doing something funny.
Tamzin Merchant as Georgiana Darcy
This lively, outgoing girl was certainly cute, but not Georgiana Darcy! However, I guess since she had such limited screen time, they wanted to make her more memorable to the audience so I tolerate it.
Peter Wight and Penelope Wilton as the Gardiners
They made Mrs. Gardiner Mrs. Bennet’s sister in this one, perhaps because there is no Mrs. Philips. Their kids were also cut. I thought their acting was fine but once again, the costume designers didn’t seem to like them and they got far from fashionable clothes. I did like the scene at the inn after they meet Mr. Darcy and Mrs. Gardiner says “There’s something pleasant about [Darcy’s] mouth when he speaks.” From the book! Mr. Gardiner looked at her curiously, hee hee.
Other characters- Colonel Fitzwilliam is nice and not handsome but he doesn’t really do anything. Sir William Lucas is in it but blink and you’ll miss him! Anne de Bourgh looks cowed by her mother. Mrs. Reynolds is nice but most of the time you can’t hear her over the background music.
The Meryton Assembly
My favorite filmed version of the Meryton Assembly. It looked like so much fun I wanted to join in myself! It was rowdy and pretty informal and you can see why Darcy and Miss Bingley didn’t want to mix with the riff-raff. In other adaptations I couldn’t really see much of a difference between the assembly and the Netherfield ball.
Dinner with Mr. Collins
Mr. Collins and everyone’s reactions to him crack me up. They’re all clearly trying not to laugh at his ridiculousness. I’ve heard that in the full screen version, you can see that he’s actually reading his compliments off notecards!
Lizzy’s dance with the awkward Mr. Collins and Jane trying to tell her about Wickham is hysterical. Darcy and Lizzy’s dance is full of chemistry. My favorite part is the camera panning throughout the halls and rooms and showing what everyone is doing. I almost forgive Mr. Bennet comforting Mary because it looks nice in the scene.
Mr. Bingley’s Surprise Visit
When Mr. Bingley shows up unannounced near the end to propose to Jane and they all run around trying to set the room to order. This sort of thing has become cliche in movies but I thought it was really well done here. I like when he comes back a second time and they all turn around one way and Mrs. Bennet, slow on the uptake, turns the opposite way. Just a subtle thing like that never fails to make me laugh.
Least Favorite Scenes
Don’t you dare judge me!
Written by Emma Thompson, this scene was so jarring to me.
After Darcy’s proposal, a confused Lizzy looks at herself in the mirror. I get that they wanted to show her introspection and all that and I like the idea, but it looks like she just stares into it for AN ENTIRE DAY! And then Darcy comes up behind her (just let himself in?) and leaves the letter. He’s gone by the time she turns around so you think it could be her imagination but then you see him riding away so I guess it’s meant to be real? Interesting idea, poor execution.
Middle of the Road- I’ve warmed up to the “Mrs. Darcy” scene at the end even though I thought it was beyond cheesy at first. I think the scene itself is nice and I’m glad we don’t close on Mr. Bennet. I liked seeing them so intimate with each other after marriage but the dialogue was just…too much. Again this was written by Emma Thompson. I think this would have been a nice place to put in the conversation where they discuss when their feelings for the other turned to romance, which only the 1980 version includes. Sigh.
The costumes in this version for the most part look like real clothes and not just fancy schmancy stuff. Caroline Bingley gets all the elegant new fashions. Jane’s clothing is nice but not as expensive looking. Lizzy wears pretty dull, “tomboyish” stuff most of the time which I don’t mind. There was only one dress of hers I really hated. I do have to say I’m glad they moved the setting to 1797, because Keira Knightley probably wouldn’t have looked good in an Empire waistline.
I love Jane’s blue coat!
I hate Lizzy’s brown sack dress!
That’s all I’ve got to say for now! It’s taken me nearly two days to write this review because I’ve been so busy. I’m debating whether to review Kandukondain Kandukondain and Bride and Prejudice as well. The former is actually an Indian version of S&S and although I own it on DVD I’ve only seen it once and actually found it draggy so I don’t really have any desire to watch it again. B&P is a part Bollywood, part Western movie adaptation of P&P and although I quite like it, I haven’t watched it in probably a couple of years! I don’t know. I may just do B&P and/or come back to them after I’ve done all the “regular” adaptations.
My Rating: 10/10