Eye For Film >> Movies >> Bride And Prejudice (2004) Film Review
Bride And Prejudice
Reviewed by: Symon Parsons
You couldn't accuse writer/producer/director Gurinder Chadha of lacking ambition. After the success of Bend It Like Beckham, now she attempts a romantic comedy, with Bollywood numbers, based on a Jane Austen novel and set on three continents.
Lalita (Aishwarya Rai) is one of four daughters with a very marriage-minded mother, eager to have them wed and out of the house, preferably in the UK, or US. However, Lalita is proud of being Indian and doesn't take kindly to the patronising American Will Darcy (Martin Henderson), preferring the company of freewheeling Brit backpacker John Wickham (Daniel Gillies)
Okay, I'm not giving anything away here if I tell you that Mr. Wickham is a Bad Sort. You can tell this because he's not clean-shaven - all that's missing is a twirly Victorian moustache. Meanwhile, Lalita's love life is further complicated by the arrival of an obnoxious Americanised Indian businessman. Can true love prevail?
Opening in Amritsar, Bride And Prejudice begins with a gorgeous explosion of colour, dance and music. Rai and Henderson are both attractive leads and there are amusing swipes at both fish-out- of-water tourists and Westernised Indians. But then the Austen plot creaks into place and it's almost as if someone at the back of the audience hit the pause button, while they go and fetch popcorn.
Comedies and musicals are dependent on pace and, unfortunately, shoehorning Pride And Prejudice into this tradition hamstrings the whole project. The movie starts to fly, then slows to a crawl. It's a frustrating experience as it contains glimpses of what a fabulous cross-culture experiment it could have been, with Bollywood numbers in a Mariachi restaurant and gospel choirs appearing from nowhere.
Another problem is a lack of chemistry between the romantic leads - Henderson is given a thankless role. An emotionally constipated Englishman is something we're all used to, but when the hero is American you have to wonder what's wrong with the chap.
Bride And Prejudice is not an unrewarding experience. When it does hit its stride you'll find yourself laughing at the jokes and wanting to clap along to the songs. But it's real promise remains just out of reach. Maybe next time.Reviewed on: 08 Oct 2004