Pride & Prejudice

Pride & Prejudice

***1/2

Reviewed by: Kotleta

It's hard to get excited about yet another adaptation of a story so familiar. When you've read the book and seen the exemplary (complete with curiously bovine Jane Bennet) Andrew Davies TV version, not to mention countless other small screen appearances and the 1940 Greer Garson/Laurence Olivier film, well... what's more to be said about it? For reasons of taste I omitted last year's dreadful Bride And Prejudice from that list, as Jane Austen would be ashamed to be associated with something so turgid and lifeless. But really, are there so few stories in the world that we have to have this one regurgitated year after year in its guise as the perfect romance?

Like the old wedding superstition, it offers something borrowed and something blue, something old but nothing new. With its blend of floaty dresses, verbal warfare, near tragedy, comedy and romance, this is the ultimate chick flick and doubtless there will be many more versions of it to come. It's been a long time since there was a proper cinema version, and if you consider that this has been made with an international audience in mind it suddenly seems less superfluous. After all, only in Britain will small girls ever have made Barbie squeal, "Ooh, Mr Darcy," whilst flushing Action Man down the toilet.

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Discount director Joe Wright's assertion that his version is in any way gritty - it's not. The Bennet's house may be more shabby than chic, but the only point in which there is any darkness is Charlotte Lucas's desperate admission that she's marrying a man whom she despises purely because she has no prospects and is afraid of what will happen to her if she doesn't, which is really what the whole novel is about.

Although I will no doubt watch it over and over again when I'm off work, pretending to have flu, it left me feeling vaguely depressed and empty. Wright has made the film that everyone expected to see from Working Title. It looks beautiful, it's true to the original text, everything about it works. But that's not enough. Austen's novels were social commentary; they were sharp and witty and provocative, but every adaptation blunts their power a little more. I wanted to love it and I tried my hardest - after all it DOES have Tom Hollander (Mr Collins), who is wonderful in everything - but we just didn't have any chemistry.

Reviewed on: 16 Sep 2005
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The camera loves Keira as Jane Austen's famous and fabulous writing flows to life.
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Angus Wolfe Murray ****1/2

Director: Joe Wright

Writer: Deborah Moggach, based on the novel by Jane Austen

Starring: Keira Knightley, Matthew MacFadyen, Brenda Blethyn, Donald Sutherland, Tom Hollander, Rosamund Pike, Jena Malone, Judi Dench, Rupert Friend, Simon Woods, Kelly Reilly, Claudie Blakley, Corey Mulligan, Penelope Wilton, Talulah Riley, Peter Wright

Year: 2005

Runtime: 127 minutes

BBFC: U - Universal

Country: UK

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If you like this, try:

Becoming Jane
The Jane Austen Book Club