Sunday, April 22, 2007

Pride & Prejudice

2005, UK/France, directed by Joe Wright

A lively adaptation of the Jane Austen novel, this 2005 version can't compete with the expansive running time of the 1995 BBC television serial, but it nonetheless squeezes most of Austen's plot into just over two hours without being excessively breathless. The novel's heroine is filmed with a camera that seems to be constantly on the move, enhancing the energy exuded by Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet (though there is the occasional unattractive zoom, a trick, like the snatches of overlapping dialogue, picked up, no doubt, from Robert Altman). That energy is especially apparent in the ballroom scenes, beautifully filmed, the action creating a rich backdrop for the verbal duels that are culled from the pages of the novel.

While Knightley is the eye-catching centrepiece, the supporting cast is generally strong, too; Donald Sutherland is amusingly wry as Bennet père, while Rosamund Pike is winning, and winsome, as Elizabeth's elder sister, Jane. The younger men, though, don't always come off quite as well; Matthew Macfadyen can't hope to compete with Colin Firth's 1995 Mr. Darcy, particularly where director Wright makes his character rather more dour than necessary (until the final sequences, where his makeover is perhaps a shade too complete), though Simon Woods is amusing as Mr. Bingley.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States